"Magbuwag Ta Kay" (Let's Break Up) revolves around college sweethearts Roy (Rowell Ucat) and Kay (Akiko Solon), who have to come to terms of their looming breakup. It all started when Kay learns she will be following her parents, who have migrated to Canada. Faced with a prospect of uncertainty, the couple, averse to being in a long-distance relationship, settle on calling it quits.
As the end draws nigh with Kay scheduled to fly in a month's time, the couple, through a series of vignettes, muse over their relationship, spend time with their families, and embark on a final road trip until they are confronted with realities of their situation.
Set in present-day Cebu, "Magbuwag Ta Kay" is youthful, sweet, and relatable. It explores the emotional roller-coaster of lovers in the throes of an uncertain love. It conveys the bittersweet memories of teenage romance - the sudden euphoria, the delinquent behavior, the pent-up frustrations, and the devastation in its impertinence. It doesn't follow the rom-com fodder boy-meets-girl-that-ends-in-happily-ever-after.
However, the film, in its entirety, doesn't quite measure up. It doesn't distinguish itself enough to be memorable. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it’s bereft of striking moments. When the film hits the home stretch, it tries to tug at your heartstrings, but because it lacks precise direction, it feels less satisfying.
Despite its flaws, the film is buoyed by the sincere performances of its lead stars. Both actors, however, leave different impressions for very different reasons. For Ucat, he can’t seem to divorce himself from his 2 million-strong following online persona, popularly known as “Medyo Maldito.” For taking his first step into film, his attempt still warrants admiration.
His on-screen partner, on the other hand, has found solid footing. Solon, more known as a finalist of the singing competition “Star Power,” is bubbly and affecting, oozing charisma on the big screen. The cherubic-faced Cebuana songstress shines the brightest despite being limited by the film’s indiscretions.
What the film succeeds in doing is that it offers a refreshing taste of the country’s burgeoning content of regional cinema. "Magbuwag Ta Kay," a locally produced film picked up for distribution by Viva Films, is a reminder that regional films deserve to be seen by a swathe of moviegoing public than to a select few in film festivals.
One shining example that was able to strike a chord with audiences is the black-comedy "Patay Na Si Hesus." The Jaclyn Jose-led film, which uses the Cebuano language and features local actors, became a sleeper hit during the first Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.
By and large, regional-language films, a reflection of multi-cultural society, remain to be on the margins in terms of mainstream audience. It’s not about to change anytime soon in the current industry landscape, it appears. But for a pair of independently produced films crossing over into Philippine mainstream cinema, it’s a promising start.