30th MMFF: Aishite Imasu (Mahal Kita) 1941

6:20 am PHT

Aishite Imasu is the second movie I saw from the Metro Manila Film Festival. And compared to Spirit of the Glass, this is way, way, way better. The story is much more substantial, the acting is significantly better, and the cinematography is quite decent. It reminded me of Oro, Plata, Mata, another Japanese period film.

The basic plot behind this movie, which was directed by Joel C. Lamangan, is about how lives becomes entangled because of war and how people are forced to choose between the person you love and the country you serve.

Inya (Judy Ann Santos) and Ignacio (Dennis Trillo) are best friends living in the town of San Nicolas, somewhere in the Philippines. Ignacio is gay and is quite a good singer. They both love Edilberto (Raymart Santiago) another childhood friend. Eventually, Inya and Edilberto hook up and become sweethearts while Ignacio contents himself to supporting his best friend.

Then the Japanese invade the Philippines. A contingent of the Imperial Japanese Army, led by their captain Ichiru (Jay Manalo), secure the town of San Nicolas. When they arrived, Ignacio was singing, dressed in women’s clothes, on the stage as part of a town function. Ichiru, mistaking Ignacio to be a woman, becomes smitten with him.

The guerilla fighters saw this as a chance to fight the Japanese. Edilberto convinces Ignacio to go with Ichiru and be a spy for the guerillas. And as Edilberto fights off the Japanese, he neglects Inya, whom he married shortly after the Japanese arrived. While Inya pines after Edilberto, Ignacio slowly falls in love with Ichiru and feels that he is betraying both his country and his love.

That’s the underlying platform behind the story of Aishite Imasu. From there, Inya and Ignacio’s lives dives into one hardship after another.

I was extremely surprised with one plot twist in the middle of the story, regarding the sub-plot between Ichiru and Ignacio. The movie also had quite several quotable quotes, the most striking of which is when Ichiru said to Ignacio, “Just because you love me, does not mean you can’t love your country.”

The acting, as I’ve said, is very, very good. I was quite impressed, in particular, with Angelu De Leon, who plays Maura, the Filipino tranlsator for the Japanese. Her character is completely loyal to Japan, having studied there for several years. While Angelu’s role was really small compared to the others, it’s the way she held herself that really brought attention to herself. All those months perfoming in the play All About Men (the male counterpart to Vagina Monologues) seems to have payed off for her.

Dennis Trillo and Jay Manalo also gave very good performances. Despite what some people are saying about how unconvincing Jay’s accent is, I didn’t find it bad since I’ve heard Japanese people from my work speak the same way.

Aishite Imasu is really a good movie. I’m disappointed and surprised that it’s a

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