While watching the film The Art of Ligaw, two of my inner sensibilities wrestled, as I got confused between getting kilig or cringing. It wasn’t Epy Quizon that made me cringe. The veteran actor revived his alluring charm as a leading man. And definitely not KZ Tandingan. The rising OPM artist, for the first time, showcased her acting wits in this cutesy indie love story.
In hindsight, the acting was great. Watching Quizon in a soft and romantic state took some getting used to. Nevertheless, he delivered a fine performance as a middle-aged playboy.
KZ Tandingan was the biggest surprise. Her performance relied on her strengths – being quirky and speaking in her native language Bisaya. She came off so natural and relatable. She was the best part of the film.
What made me cringe about The Art of Ligaw? It was the storyline – well, parts of it.
An Odd Pair
The film starts with Jake Esguerra (Quizon), a 40-something self-confessed womanizer explaining how life has become dull after effortlessly preying on women for years. When a friend invites him to Davao City, he meets a 20-something BPO agent named Carisse (Tandingan) who was not his usual type.
He decides to pursue Carisse as his first real target, and bring back the lost art of Filipino courting or panliligaw. Carisse, who obviously doesn’t want anything to do with him, isn’t impressed by his moves. But eventually, she agrees to go out with him, despite her inhibitions.
The chemistry was uncanny. An old guy pursuing an odd girl? But it worked.
The problem with The Art of Ligaw is that it’s driven by Jake’s storytelling. Carisse was not given ample air time to present who she is, what she thinks, and how she will act upon him. Much of it is about the man’s journey of falling and failing.
Making the male character way older was a perfect choice, though. It educated audiences about traditional courtship, with a present day backdrop.
Ironically, following its title, the movie digresses from showcasing the art of courtship, to instead following the art of being lost – literally.
It shows how critical romantic films should be, to present both perspectives. If the story’s being told by one of the leads, the other must manifest the entirety of the constrasting character – expressed in more than just kilig and tears. Kulang eh. There could’ve been more to tell.
Welcome to Davao City
One of the things that should be praised in The Art of Ligaw is the shooting location of Davao City. The film tried to connect the theme of “getting lost” in the city which was well presented visually. The sites shown were value-adding, especially to Carisse’s character.
The Art of Ligaw is a good film – notable for KZ’s first as an actress. It is also Jourdan Sebastian’s directorial debut in film, and Epy’s comeback as a leading man. So apart from a bit of improvement it could’ve used in storytelling, it’s a solid effort for an indie film.
3 out of 5 stars
Art of Ligaw is NOW SHOWING in cinemas.