Para sa Hopeless Romantic is the latest film to draw from the seemingly endless well of Wattpad novels. And while the platform remains an interesting curiosity, the films that have been produced from them are becoming increasingly unbearable. It is becoming that the films aren’t really doing anything to make these movies work on screen. They aren’t trying to improve on anything, and are just plugging in the same young stars into these roles.
Becca (Nadine Lustre) is in the middle of writing a love story, one that reflects her own failed relationship with her high school sweetheart Nikko (James Reid). Everyone is telling her to give the story a happy ending, but her inability to move on keeps her from sending the story in that direction. And then one day, Nikko comes back into her life. He asks for one last chance to win her back, but Becca is still hurting, and is afraid that Nikko is just going to hurt her again.
The movie has a pretty low standard for romance. There is a chunk of this film devoted to a side character's infatuation with a Jollibee manager. The film plays the moment that she finds that (spoiler alert!) he is already in a relationship as a big, dramatic revelation. It in fact equates this minor disappointment with the main character's angst, which is supposed to be three years worth of pain and longing. The film keeps asking the audience to care about things that just don't matter. When all is said and done, it turns out that (spoiler alert!) the only thing that was standing in the way of the primaries being together is a silly misunderstanding.
There just isn't much that happens in this film. The characters are even in proximity for majority of the movie. They aren't made to deal with whatever hurt was caused years ago. There is a section where we see Nikko with another girl, but the point of that entire episode is the same: he isn't over Becca. It doesn't even become an issue when Nikko finally runs into Becca again. By that time, it's practically a distant memory. The film never builds a conflict worth paying attention to, the distance between the characters resulting in minor dramas that never amount to anything substantial.
And so the whole story is just about waiting for two people to get back together, even though it isn't entirely clear why they ought to be together. There isn't much reason to root for this outcome. The film doesn't invest much in their happiness as a couple. The film uses talk of destiny to wave away the lack of actual story development. The film seems to rely entirely on the coupling of its two lead stars. Nadine Lustre and James Reid certainly do seem comfortable with each other, but without a reason to root for them, they might as well be anybody else.
Para sa Hopeless Romantic stumbles into an ending eventually, both for its characters and the story that Becca is writing. Both are pretty bizarre. The story-within-the-story ends up espousing the strange notion that falling into a coma can be a good thing, as it can help nudge your crush into realizing that she loves you. And as for Becca and Nikko, their love story ends on a really awkward note. The film ends on a scene finds the actors looking utterly confused as their characters make an agreement that feels like a non sequitur. I suppose we’re meant to be happy for them, but in the moment, even the actors don’t look particularly happy.