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Saturday, August 30, 2008

For the first time

For the first time, fans were treated to a grand spectacle of two of our brightest, most beautiful young stars, setting the silver screen on fire with a conflagration of romance, raw emotionality and captivating scenery.

But wait: such a spectacle is actually familiar--we've seen a lot of that in the 1980s with Gabby Concepcion and Sharon Cuneta. That however will not dissuade fans who will surely swoon over the love team of Richard Guiterrez and KC Concepcion, who star together for the first time in their film, uh, "For the First Time".

Watching the first half-hour of the film, I began to wonder whether I was the only person in the audience old enough to be feeling a sense of deja vu: Gabby and Sharon then, Richard and KC now. There has never been a love team in recent memory that crackled with the same energy, the same romantic, saccharine, diabetic coma-inducing sweetness as what Richard Gutierrez and KC Concepcion were generating onscreen. Theirs is definitely the love team to beat.

Let's face it: those two simply look gorgeous together. In the months leading up to the negotiations between GMA-7 and ABS-CBN to make the Richard-KC tandem a reality, everybody--from network officials to members of the press, to die hard movie fans, to even the average Juan who gets a whiff of showbiz news every now and then--everybody must have felt a sense of destiny: the feeling that "Of course. We simply must have a Richard and KC love team."

And so this is where destiny has brought us: watching Richard cry his eyes out in scenes that definitely required him to channel more than just his Captain Barbel, Mulawin and whatever other action hero character he played in GMA-7. That Richard was able to shed that many tears is probably a kudos to director Joyce Bernal.

Destiny has also brought us the sight of KC using her lips for something more passionate than flashing that Gabby Concepcion smile for the cameras (hey, her biological father did start out as a toothpaste model): kissing Richard Gutierrez torridly a few times.

The plot is standard Pinoy romantic fare so it's really not a good idea to give spoilers: Rich, privileged but very smart, very level-headed girl meets hunky hearthrob. Said heartthrob is standard romantic movie "bad boy": he's a consumate playboy, treating women like objects and probably thinks he's hit the jackpot with someone as lovely as Pia (KC Concepcion) who, while intelligent, is quite naive in the ways of the world.

Playboy Seth (Richard Gutierrez) however is in for a surprise: true love is right around the corner and will soon break his own wayward heart. Pia gets heart-broken, too; after all, being an over-protected daughter never prepared her for the kind of games and betrayals that Seth will bring into her life.

Another "star" in the movie is Santorini Island in Greece, where the film's most beautiful scenes were shot. One could sense that Bernal herself may have fallen in love with the locale. There's another star who deserves mention: who else but the impossibly comic Candy Pangilinan, who livened up every scene where she played a love-struck yaya.

So if you want a sweet escape from your troubles for the day, "For the First Time" would not be a bad choice: its two beautiful lead stars combine with Santorini for a sweeping two-hour escape into our adolescent fantasies--back when romance felt like a frighteningly lethal drug that threatened to consume us, eclipsing reason, and earning us the ire of our parents.

Here's one thing I noticed though: back in the day, when they were the hottest love team in the history of Philippine movies, Gabby Concepcion and Sharon Cuneta acted better than KC and Richard do in this movie. (KC, of course, has proven that she can act--but what else could she do with Pia's character?)

Hopefully, "For the First Time" is only the first of many more movies to come for Richard and KC. In time, perhaps, their fairy tale chemistry and acting would grow even more compelling, even following uncannily the success of the Gabby-Sharon phenomenon.

Then again, we know how that turned out: Gabby and Sharon watching their own daughter's movie premiere in separate theaters. So let's hope Richard and KC don't follow that road too closely.

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