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UPCAT is one of the films shown in last year’s Cinema One Originals which is directed by Roman Olivares. At first glance, it appears to be cool and convincing enough, the audience (mostly from UP) get a bit nostalgic with their UP experiences. Well, I am not from UP but a friend of mine (from UP) was with me during the screening. He terribly hated the film; a sharp contrast with the overwhelming response from the audience at that time. It’s not really a dreadful film. But with how the story evolved, they conveyed some unappealing qualities of Filipino melodrama.

Lucas (Felix Roco) hopes to make it through the UP entrance exam together with his friend Joaquin (Joseph Roble). They are helped by Michael, (Richard Quan) who teaches them techniques and topics that might help them pass the entrance exam. But his father (Bembol Roco) does not approve his liking to study in UP for some reason. To add more zest, his love interest with Jane (Yasmin Neri) is not approved by Jane’s father (Mark Gil). Lucas has to face these problems alongside his longing to fulfill his dream of becoming a writer.

Melodramas are not bad. There are just some elements which if it is incorporated clumsily, it could really look plain awful. It should be a light romantic comedy but they have this tendency to scatter trivial substance into the plot for unknown reason. Maybe they are not confident of the lightness of the story and the story will not in anyway develop. To make the story material a bit frothy, surely it’s good to give a little drama but it’s not the point. It just messed the coolness of what they have already established in the first place. Besides, the plot and twists are insubstantial on a writer’s perspective and even flimsy to make it climactic. It’s not all gross, but the balancing aspect of the lightness with the drama should be more polished.

The film’s appeal cannot be denied and the audience could relate and embrace the efforts put through this film that embodies the UP’s stride for being wise and idealistic. There are clichés represented within the film and through my friend’s perspective, the film UPCAT has shown a facet of the present generation inhabiting the UP campus. Well, at some point it would be a little exaggerated to make the film engaging.
The interesting facet of the film is the love angle between Lucas and Jane. It’s undeniable that they have this film presence, the crest of love chemistry that is very important in films tackling a bit of romance. The not so interesting part is the acting of Roco (Lucas) in some areas where he gets to show his frightening behavior. The moment he shouts or tries to boast, his charm tends to skid instantly down the cliff of discredit. His best friend Joaquin that was played by Roble is the film’s comedic relief but the fruition of his character is likely nondescript.
The summation of UPCAT is that the story (written by Alfred Geoffrey Reyes) has good elements at the start and goes downhill until the end. The story will always be at the top list of what might make the film of good value or even the lack of it. We as the audience will stick to our common sense in gauging what is admirable on a certain film. It does not matter if the film is catered to a nominal audience for it to be appreciated. They might be aware of the plot holes and truism within the story. UPCAT missed the mark to make it a passing film.
Charlie Koon's Rating:

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