When a tale is told in a clear, sincere, no-frills manner, the message goes straight to the heart. Such is the case of Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay, a 90's love story that gets under your skin and creeps into your consciousness because of its earnestness.
Judy Ann Santos plays Anna Cordero, a secretary at an advertising agency who is the breadwinner of their family composed of Eva Darren, Nikki Valdez, and William Lorenzo; while Rico Yan is Alex Medina, a marketing executive who dreams of having his own business.
Alex and Anna meet in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. After an initial misunderstanding, the two manage to be good friends. Alex is quickly drawn to Anna because of her admirable devotion to her family. Likewise, Anna is touched by Alex's openness and idealism. Believing that what they have is only a dream that will end when they return to Manila, Anna insists that they should never see each other again.
But fate has its way. As they say, "If it's meant to be, it will happen." Alex catches a glimpse of Anna walking in Makati; he jumps out of the car and pursues her. How Anna and Alex finally meet again after a few misses is one of the many highlights of the film. It doesn't take long before Anna and Alex become a couple. They clearly love each other, but two factors get in the way. One is Sandy, a wealthy and long-time friend of Alex who will do anything to win his love, and the other is Anna's family who is competing for her attention and support.
Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay is like many Filipino romance movies, but the way it is made sets it apart. Yes, it presents many conventions and "cliches". There's the first part of the movie where the lead actor and the lead actress must first hate each other before falling in love. Then there is also the ubiquitous "third party" to complete a love triangle, in this movie's case, two third parties: Sandra and Anna's family. The "poor girl falls in love with rich boy" theme is a convention that has been used in many romantic films. Also, its premise is simple and not extraordinary (unlike the Hollywood high-concept stories some local flicks have tried to imitate). And not to forget, there's also a beach scene where the young lovers chase and frolic on the shore.
So, what makes this movie special? What makes Kay Tagal different? It's one of the very few that can move to tears and complete delight with a simple gesture like the clasping of hands, an embrace, or a special look. Judy Ann's eyes can already convey so much emotion; her ability to communicate with her eyes, plus her natural and heartfelt delivery of dialogue equals a very moving performance as Anna. Rico, works well with his leading lady, Judy Ann. He tackles the role of Alex with childlike playfulness and sensitivity. Like Judy Ann, Rico can also talk with his eyes, but he is most effective during the moments when his character is very happy.
The supporting cast is a balanced mix of newcomers and senior stars. Jennifer Sevilla is conniving as Sandra, but you can't really hate her because she doesn't come out as wicked. You still feel whatever Sandra does it because of her undying love for Alex. Jennifer can easily fill in the shoes vacated by character actress Cherie Gil, now that the latter has chosen to live abroad.
Gloria Sevilla gives a delightful performance as Manang B, the caretaker of the inn where Anna and Alex meet. Except for holding a glass of liquor, Dante Rivero isn't given much to do, as he is again assigned to play the role of an irresponsible father. (He was the drunkard father of Judy Ann in Paano ang Puso Ko; in Kay Tagal, he is the father of Rico.) Yayo Aguila's talent is underutilized since she only appears in a few scenes. However, William Lorenzo makes a respectable comeback playing Anna's weak brother, Jojo.
Aside from the wonderful peformance by the cast, there is also the charming script written by Mari Mariano and Olivia Lamasan, which is full of romantic dialogue. The script, plus other elements such as the soft and natural cinematography by Joe Batac; light, upbeat musical variations of the theme song, Kay Tagal care of musical director Nonong Buencamino; and the detailed production design of Nuel Naval, just gelled well to give the audience an entertaining love story.
Director Rory B. Quintos works with conventions, but still gives some pleasant surprises, particularly through the characters of Rico and Judy Ann. Watch out for those kissing scenes and you'd know what I mean.
All in all, Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay is worth the price of admission. You might even like it enough to watch it a second time.
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