To die-hard romantics, there is probably nothing more profound than the pain of falling in love only to find out that everything is a sham.
Joel Lamangan’s This Time I’ll Be Sweeter aspires to showcase that pain by charting the on-and-off love affair between Erika (Barbie Forteza), an aspiring journalist, and Tristan (Ken Chan), a star athlete who is also a scion of an airline owner. Unfortunately, the film falls short of its aspirations and only succeeds in echoing the deadening effect of living through a flaccid romance that is bereft of any kind of charm. (READ: Barbie Forteza, Ken Chan get together in their first movie, 'This Time I'll Be Sweeter')
Heartless and questionable
It doesn’t help that the characters in the film seem to be clueless of basic human decency, turning them into the least likely candidates for a truly affecting romance. For example, when Tristan’s girlfriend suddenly barges in on Tristan and Erika’s spritely conversation, there is absolutely no effort on Tristan's part to introduce them to each other, and without even a word or gesture, he leaves Erika alone. That specific act by Tristan is just not done by anyone claiming to be a friend, much less a lover.
Tristan isn’t alone in the abject heartlessness because Erika is also quite the questionable individual.
In one scene, Erika, who chanced upon the plane crash that caused the death of Tristan’s beloved sister, sees a visibly wailing Tristan running towards his sister’s dead body. Instead of opening their sudden reunion with words of condolences, Erika, who is also a dear friend of the woman who just died, bluntly asks if distraught Tristan can be interviewed. Tristan understandably shouts at her, which is actually quite a tame response to such an affront because the crassness deserves something worse.
A chore to watch
It isn’t that the filmmakers specifically designed the characters to be grossly insensitive and uncharismatic, which could have resulted in a testy but intriguing love story.
The characters only shape up to be starkly unsavory because of the filmmakers’ sheer laziness. The scenes that are churned out unintentionally depict the protagonists as completely undeserving of the sympathies that are required to render a staggered romance worthy of any attention.
This Time I’ll Be Sweeter isn’t as swoony as it thinks it is. Its premise is preposterous. Its characters are venomous. Its insistence to wear out a bland romance is very ill-motivated.
Sitting through it is quite a torturous experience, one that begs its viewers for tolerance for protagonists of dubious personalities. Its outward gloss only masks how blatantly shallow its perceptions about love really is. It borrows all the tricks in the book, but still, it doesn’t come up with anything remotely delightful. Everything about it is just a dreadful chore.
Don’t fall for the title.
There is nothing sweet about This Time I’ll Be Sweeter. It is mostly bland, with certain parts fueled by alarming bad taste. Simply put, This Time I’ll Be Sweeter is a toxic romance about a toxic girl who keeps falling in love with an equally toxic boy. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.