Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa is the story of Sam and Isa (Nicco Manalo and Emmanuele Vera). The film makes it clear from the start that there is something going on between them, but there is also a distance that is keeping them apart. It is revealed a little later on that Isa already has a boyfriend, and that Sam is the third party in this case. The film follows the two as they struggle with the possibility of true commitment, and are forced to settle for the stolen moments of intimacy that they manage to sneak in every now and then.
There is another reason that Sam and Isa aren’t able to commit to each other, but the film plays coy with that reason for most of the movie. It never really deals with that vital piece of information as a narrative concern. And so the characters dance around their problem, staring longingly at each other without really addressing the issues that might allow them to be happy. In a way, the film could be interpreted as a realistic depiction of an inherently doomed relationship: the trouble stemming from a lack of communication more than anything else. But it doesn’t quite warrant that theme.
The whole story feels inert. It doesn’t quite feel like material that warrants a feature film. At best, it might be a half-hour short. The film struggles to stretch out the thin narrative, largely unable to find things for the characters to do. It becomes clear early on that Sam’s unseen boyfriend isn’t really going to be a real factor of this story. So there’s a long stretch where the drama around these two characters is vague and incoherent. They are reluctant to commit to each other, but it isn’t clear why. Without any real context, their reluctance just becomes frustrating.
In lieu of dealing with the inherent drama of this story, the film mostly allows itself to be cute. And there is value to this cuteness. If nothing else, the film displays an understanding of how it’s the smallest moments of a romance that really matter. Having said that, this story could have used an injection of passion. This is essentially a story of a forbidden romance. There is something illicit going on between these two characters, but one hardly feels it. In being content with being cute, the film just ends up feeling a little flat.
The production does look good, especially for a low budget film. There is a gloss to it that one would necessarily expect from such a small picture. There are a bunch of beautifully composed shots littered throughout the movie. They don’t always feel entirely organic to what’s going on, but the skill and thought into them is more than appreciated. Nicco Manalo and Emmanuelle Vera are pretty good in the lead roles, the actors filling in the gaps of feeling left by the screenplay. It would have been great to see what they’d have done if the characters were actually dealing with their drama.
Every now and then, Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa does capture something. There are moments where it perfectly captures the feeling of just being with someone, the brief comfort that comes with ignoring the rest of the world for a second, and just being in proximity with someone you feel something for. But these moments are fleeting at best, and it never grows into anything bigger. They don’t confront their conflicts, and their romance never rises to the level of passion. For all the skill on display, there’s just this nagging sense that this story was never meant to be a feature film.