Sana Dati: When men choose (not) to follow their heart


Dear sir

               You know you like a film when you’ve watched it four times in a week. Granted, you have the time and privilege to watch for free, but you just don’t monitor every screening time and sneak out of your post to catch it. Well I did, because it’s that good!

I’ll leave you to make whatever of the trailer. If I say anything then I will end up spoiling the whole thing. But I’ll tell you this, Sana Dati is the best, un-cheesiest romance film I’ve seen in a loooooong time. The storytelling, score, soundtrack, cinematography, editing, actor’s performance – almost all aspects of it are tasteful. So tasty that it hoarded eight out of fourteen awards, including best film, in the Director’s Showcase category at the recent Cinemalaya Indie Film Fest.

You wouldn’t feel it was shot in 9 days with limited budget sir. It glues you to the screen and you don’t even know who the lovers are. Then it slowly and subtly reveals itself to you with the right amount of drama and kilig without throwing it to your face. There are just plenty of things to discuss: the non-linear telling, how the shots, and not the dialogue, that reveal the story, how the characters are fleshed out, it’s a sign of a great writing and directing sir: to tell the story with minimal words and plenty of actions. Other notables are the best friend and the host (comedy lang!) Paulo Avelino’s restraint, Lovi Poe’s timid flirting, and TJ Trinidad’s weightiness. You could feel his quiet agony seeping from the screen, like he would burst anytime, definitely deserves that supporting actor award.

But what makes my heart really swell is that ending. I honestly don’t want to say anything, but my goodness, it’s the reason why I watched again and again. I love guys with conviction. It’s refreshing to see male characters making honorable decisions on the big screen. You have this guy that says No and chooses not to follow his heart. And then you have another who says Yes and chooses to love even if his feelings are against it. They saved themselves (& others) plenty of issues by actually doing the right thing, reminding you that real love is not self seeking. I wish that there are more men like that, deciding to take a stand and leading the woman. In the end, she also decided to love. I doubt she has strong emotions to the guy she ended up with, but still she chose to act on the commitment, I’m pretty sure the feelings will follow. I love the theater’s collective gasps followed by murmurs at that final sequence, then their applause cutting in the dark when the screen turned black. It wasn’t reluctant clapping sir, but a sincere automatic reaction. Happened in all four screenings I was in.

During the gala night, Director Jerrold Tarog said that he wanted to create a story with flawed characters making flawed decisions. What he gave us was a set of flawed people making flawed decisions and flawed people making sober decisions, plus some aftermath of those choices (and I don’t know if he’s aware of it). But he sure knows how to move an audience without being sentimental. I want to be like him when I grow up.

I hope it gets a commercial release. The general public deserves a film like this.



If you’re into Up Dharma Down, you’ll love the treatment of their song.


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