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‘Kita Kita’

By: Jullie Y. Daza

IT wasn’t meant to be, but it worked. No slapping, hair-pulling women. No handsome leading man gunning after uglies to avenge a loved one. No climactic wedding scene, no amnesia, no lost childhood, not even a love triangle. What, no pa-drama-drama!?

What kind of a movie can it be whose main character is shorter than his leading lady? Not only does he not have the height, he doesn’t have the looks, not even a glamorous screen name. Some people may have heard of him as a comedian, but not me. But when I saw the trailer of “Kita Kita,” my instincts told me this was the movie to watch, and not only because it was filmed entirely in Japan. Why, even before I had time to catch it, I’d asked friends to taste it for me.

They were not disappointed. Myself, I was mildly shocked that a story as engaging as this – no violence, no hyperactive action sequences, no sex, merely a laughable attempt at romance – could succeed at the box office with such lightweight star value. Only Alessandra de Rossi, an accomplished indie actor, was expected to provide the gravitas, and indirectly, the reputation of Piolo Pascual as a foreverly optimistic producer of small films. (His outfit is aptly named Spring Films.) 

On a budget of R10 million, “Kita Kita” had raked in R200 million on its third week. The theaters surprised themselves, too, screening a non-blockbuster two at a time in some cineplexes. How in the world – ?

They could not explain it, only that the audience were buying it. They laughed at Empoy Marquez’ funny face and one-liners, empathizing with the plight of a lovestruck neighbor doing everything to attract a girl who not only cannot see him but is totally tuned out by his attentions. They gave the movie a standing ovation; I felt like clapping for the audience.

Scripted and directed by Sigrid Andrea Bernardo – the name ought to ring a bell from now on – “Kita Kita” is as refreshing and right as rain. One thought kept nagging at me: Would it have been as effective if it had been set someplace other than in Japan? Watch it and tell me what you see.