High hopes and heartbreak

James Reid and Nadine Lustre in their fourth headlining movie, Viva Films' This Time. This was one of my favorite scenes! It reminded me of  a scene from the 1993 movie Ghost, which starred Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze. 
I had high hopes for This Time, but I ended up getting my heart broken. Sort of.

On paper, it seemed like it would be a strong movie. It was bannered by the James Reid and Nadine Lustre tandem, whose reel romance eventually became real after making movies, music videos and TV shows, the latest of which was the top-rating On the Wings of Love.

Viva Films also tried to stack the deck by surrounding James and Nadine with a supporting cast featuring promising up-and-comers and dependable veterans. They also tapped Be Careful With My Heart writer Mel Mendoza del Rosario for the screenplay and brought in director Nuel Crisostomo Naval to helm it.

Unfortunately, despite their efforts, This Time still came up short compared to James and Nadine’s previous movies—at least in my opinion.

This Time opens with the story of Ava Buhay (Nadine), who gets a severe case of the blues every summer. The audience quickly discovers that her sadness is caused by her childhood friend Coby Martinez (James). Coby is the grandson of an ambassador, and as such is only present during the summer—presumably the only time his grandfather (Freddie Webb) has business in the Philippines. That makes it hard for Ava and Coby to act on their feelings for each other, because they don’t get to spend as much time together as they’d like. 

Had This Time been built solely on that one conflict, it might have turned out better.

However, it tried to focus on too many things: the difficulties of a long-distance relationship; Coby and his grandfather’s search for the latter’s former flame; and a misunderstanding between Ava and Coby, caused by a male classmate of Ava’s. The narrative of This Time suffered because of this juggling act. It jumped from one plot thread to another haphazardly and quickly, never spending enough time on any one thread in order to give it the exposition it needed. Certain scenes ended abruptly as they were getting good, leaving me dissatisfied and puzzled.

As a result, the movie didn’t pack the emotional punch I hoped it would, which is a shame, because James and Nadine can dig deep emotionally. At their best, they can make whoever is watching them feel what they’re feeling. 

The problem lies in the material. The movie was short on organic unity. It had too many elements, all of which failed to work together to form a cohesive whole, giving This Time a disjointed feel. In their next movie, James and Nadine—not to mention the supporting cast—deserve better than they got this time. (See what I did there?) 

That said, This Time isn't completely devoid of redeeming qualities. James and Nadine’s chemistry went beyond palpable in it. It was made after they became a real-life couple, and that’s evident in the way the movie comes alive when they’re left alone onscreen to work their magic. They didn’t have to work hard to bring Ava and Coby to life at all, because playing lovebirds is second nature to actors who really do have feelings for each other. However, no amount of chemistry can make up for a flawed narrative. But when James and Nadine finally connect with the right screenplay, that movie will be a commercial and critical success for sure.

I also thought that reuniting Freddie Webb with Nova Villa was quite a nice touch. Their tandem was featured in Chicks to Chicks, one of local showbiz’s longest-running sitcoms. I just wish they had been given a bit more to do. I felt like they were underutilized. As nice as it was to see them back together, I wanted to see James and Nadine play off of them more.

This Time is also worth watching for Bret Jackson’s performance alone. Bret and James have been friends for a long time, and it was nice to see them together on the big screen. Kudos to Bret for pulling off one of the biggest twists in a movie I’ve seen so far in 2016. I honestly did not see that one coming. (Speaking of good performances, props to Issa Pressman on maximizing her limited screen time. Given the right roles, she could give her older sister Yassi a run for her money!)

Also, if you dream of visiting Japan someday, you so have to watch this movie because the scenes filmed in the Land of the Rising Sun are visually stunning. The cinematography remained on point even in the scenes that were shot here in the Philippines—the ending especially. It was nakakakilig enough, but the way it was shot heightened the impact.

I thought the scenes filmed in a garden or park in Japan were breathtaking. Not only were James and Nadine giving me all the feels with their performances, but the cherry trees were resplendent in full bloom.
Like I said on Twitter, I give This Time 7/10, for the chemistry of its leads, the cinematography, and capable performances from some of its supporting players.

All photos courtesy of Viva Films.


The old Julian can't come to the phone right now.


  1. well as a JADINE fan i fully respect your opinion po. and i am very very happy because you mas mdami pa dn ang goodthings that u said po. its just that you po have a high expectation to them after otwol and i understand po. thankyou for the review sir we appreciated it

  2. Yep. I agree with every word you wrote. That was also what I felt, it was awesome but something left me puzzled and lacking...it was too fast. But the cinematography and every angle was great. Still, im a solid jadine fan. ✌

  3. Turned out we are on the same end. I am disappointed. Totally. Just like their previous movies. Tsk. Should have known better. But at least I watched it! Dagdag sa sales.

  4. I love jadine and i watch this time 2x na.. the story is too simple.. aww parang kulang tlaga parang papanuurin mo lng ng paulit ulit dahil kay hayme at nads😟💕

  5. Thanks for it but still a great movie. Like they SD from the start this story is not heavy n it does need too much conflict in it. I hope ppl will not try to compare every movie they did in the past for all their stories were different. If u ever watch indie films story is short and simple n gets to the point. It doesn't need long storyline.