Love You Long Time (2023)

Love You Long Time (2023)

An interesting time-bending romance undone by its third-act plot twists



English, Tagalog
Drama, Romance
Ana Abad-Santos, Arlene Muhlach, Carlo Aquino
104 min

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The film this could’ve been…

What it's about

While recovering from heartbreak, romance screenwriter Ikay (Eisel Serrano) gets fresh inspiration from a new connection via an old two-way radio.

The take

Stories like Il Mare and Your Name/Kimi no Na Wa work because, unlike other romances, the conflict is understandably difficult. After all, how the heck can anyone fight against time and space? Love You Long Time takes a stab at the unique time-bending premise, with one main difference: the movie’s main lovers can talk to each other directly through an old pair of two-way radios. There’s no need for the two to depend on physical letters or texts. This difference is interesting – immediately, it allows Director JP Habac to play with cinematography, editing, and acting, to make us fall in love with the couple. Split between 2018 and 2022, the film makes meaningful points about the past and present, the years lost to the pandemic, and separation. However, without spoiling anything, the film’s third-act plot twists don’t land as well as they could have. Having them back to back made the plot nearly incomprehensible, and sadly, doesn’t resolve the conflict driving the film.

What stands out

The relationship in Love You Long Time feels like a long-distance one, with the distance being time itself. However, director JP Habac brilliantly takes advantage of the cinematography and editing to bring together the two lovers visually. After all, the two characters actively chose to meet in the same scenic locations, just at different years. While separated by time, the matched split screen shots of the two talking to each other feel like they’re in one scene. At the times they connect the most, the line between the two shots seems invisible, it’s almost as if they can reach out and hold each other close. This, paired with the gorgeous scenery of Baguio, as well as Ben&Ben’s excellent soundtracks, makes it easy to believe in their connection.

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