tv + film by Philbert Dy

‘Luck at First Sight’ Doesn’t Live Up to its Narrative Potential

The film’s plot has a gambling problem.

NBHD movie 2 ticketsLuck at First Sight is about the debt-ridden Joma (Jericho Rosales). He has just lost a lot of money gambling, and now he’s looking for a lucky charm so that he can make his money back. He buys a relic that’s supposed to lead him to his life charm, and it brings him to Diane (Bela Padilla), a young woman who doesn’t believe in luck, and is struggling to keep her family’s pharmacy afloat while trying to find the money to pay for her dad’s medical expenses. In spite of her skepticism, Diane goes along with Joma to a series of gambling sprees, and weirdly enough their contact seems to bring them incredible luck.Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 12.38.37 PM Trouble starts when the two fall in love. It is established pretty early on that one of the rules of this magical universe is that you cannot fall in love with your life charm. And as the two spend more time in close proximity to each other, reaping the benefits of their shared luck, that rule becomes harder to follow. It’s a cute premise, but the movie doesn’t quite turn it into an effective romance. It ends up spending too much time on its milieu, and not enough time convincing the audience that the two main characters actually like each other.Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 12.39.13 PMThe film ends up selling the romance mainly through montages. And these montages invariably involve the joy the two experience while winning at gambling. While the film does get kind of cute in these sequences, it doesn’t do much to establish the relationship as based on anything other than their mutual success. The plot doesn’t really have them dealing with real challenges together, the two never getting a chance to show the other what he or she is really made of.Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 12.36.05 PMThematically, the film is problematic. While Joma’s arc is ostensibly built around his eventual rehabilitation from what is a clear gambling problem, the script can’t conceive of a means of resolving the overall conflict that doesn’t involve gambling. If Joma can redeem himself through gambling, if it still provides a way for him to do the right thing, then this story doesn’t really work. The film seems to make it out that you can have the right reasons for gambling, and in this universe that’s good enough. That’s hardly a sentiment worth sharing.Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 12.35.24 PMThe film does look good, however. It feels like a lot of thought into how every scene would look, the film exhibiting a greater sense of visual design than your average local romcom. Jericho Rosales is pretty effective in this role, the actor really shining when he puts on a mask of bravado covering up his character’s desperation. Bela Padilla is also quite good in this, the actress displaying a certain toughness that separates her from the typical romantic lead. Cholo Barretto and Kim Molina are fun in supporting roles, even though they aren’t given much more than typical side character exposition to deal with.Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 12.36.43 PMLuck at First Sight has plenty of narrative potential. There is plenty to be done within a premise that separates luck from love; especially in a superstitious culture that will often conflate the two. But the writing just doesn’t live up to that potential. At best, the film is at times cute and consistently well produced. But the final product feels like it could have used a little more time in the oven, its themes simply not emerging through the insistent cloud of standard romcom elements.

Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
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