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By Heinrich Domingo

Here is a film that I am willing to forgive its lapses. Above all the imperfect shots, surface-level storyline, and overpowering musical scoring, Lakbay2Love delivers environmentalism to the frontline. For a country that experiences climate change first-hand, this film is timely, relevant, and necessary.

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Lianne (played by Solenn Heussaff), a videographer who just came out of a bad break-up, met a forester and biker named Jay-R (played by Dennis Trillo). As the two exchange insights for a climate change feature story, they gradually develop a special friendship. But, as Lianne thinks that she is starting to move on, her long-time ex-boyfriend comes back to woo her. It is a love story shared by three young characters set vis-à-vis the backdrop of unrequited romance between humans and nature. It is new. It is interesting. It is much needed.

Biking plays at the heart of the movie. The emotional journey of the personas in the story is presented in the form of cycling. Hence, it became easy for the production to place advertised products in various frames. Brand of bicycles and sports equipment are presented in front of the audience without interfering the viewing process. And, from time to time, there are discussions on how individuals can contribute to the fight against climate change. All these made Lakbay2Love feel more like a documentary than a feature film.

Supplemental to the theme of the movie are performances from the main duo. Dennis has once again proven his brilliance to realistically depict characters. His ability to exhibit acting prowess without the need to steal the show paved way to the appreciation of his pair. After several years in the business, Solenn captures the scene as she rightfully portrays a girl willing to take adventure in order to cope with heartbreak. With them is a commendable acting from Patricia Ysmael (playing as Monday) whose natural comedy provided a contrast to other cast. When joined together, all are willing to enliven the personalities they are asked to play.

Due to its topic of environmental awareness and biking campaign, the audience with a short-attention span has the tendency to be bored. Yet, the film remained faithful to its cause. Instead of taking seasoned actors and actresses, they selected environmentalists and actual bikers to present information to the public. The integration of the filmmakers with these groups was manifested with how the story tackled the issues of environmental degradation in the country, minimal income of foresters, and ‘pag-uuling’ as a viable income of poor families.

There sure are contradictions in the issue of biking for the environment – it being elitist, being a tip of the iceberg solution, and being a discomfort to our modern lives. The movie has its contradictions too. Despite bringing natural beauty into the big screen, shots were randomly selected and devoid of meaning. Although beautiful OPMs filled the air, musical editing turned the music into disturbance. And even though the story discusses the profound issue of co-habiting the Earth, the plot seemed to be superficial. Yet, with all its shortcomings, I am still applauding the production team for bringing a romantic film piece that believes in something more than sex and kilig.

3 stars

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