by Pablo A. Tariman
Veronica Velasco’s “Mia” is a refreshing new rom-com with a lot to say about love and healing and yes, climate change.
The cinematography of Noel Teehankee captures the breathtaking landscape of a southern Palawan island and for a good measure, it provides an alarming contrast of how a mining project totally ruins its natural charm.
With a stroke of good imagination, Direk Veronica — who co-wrote the screenplay with Jinky Laurel – was able to weave a tale of a distraught medical doctor (Coleen Garcia) who meets a nerdy agriculturist named Jay Policarpio (EA de Guzman) who has a penchant for delivering lectures on plants and reforestation and for a good measure, climate change.
To be sure, the film narrative unfolds swiftly with the death of Mia’s fiancée (Billy Crawford). Her current condition merges with her recent past and from it comes an unlikely love story of people with contrasting characters.
In the case of Mia, her story becomes a curious case of a doctor in need of healing from a man who deals with plants and the environment.
She hangs on to a pot of bromeliad given by her late fiancée and talks to it as though it has a heart and soul of a human being. Her bouts of drinking also find her gatecrashing an island wedding and, in the process, gets to bed with the agriculturist who saved her from drowning.
To the doctor, that one-night fling is no big deal. But to the agriculturist, it means a lot he makes a good effort to get to know her better.
On the whole, Mia is a refreshing new rom-com and for a good reason, highly viewable.
The supporting cast (Yayo Aguila, William Martinez, Star Orjaliza, Jeremy Domingo, Sunshine Teodoro, Pau Benitez and Xenia Barrameda) provide a good portrait of an island family and doctors in the barrios. The beauteous doctor finds temporary solace in their company but can’t get rid of her dangerous drinking habits.
The presence of the forester who is also trying heal an overly exploited island finds himself offering a healing hand to a medical doctor in great emotional stress.
As the agriculturist, EA de Guzman is made for the part and thanks to good writing, his character doesn’t take advantage of a perennially drunk doctor. Here you see an actor sticking to his countryside role with ease. His character could have been reduced to a rapacious Lothario given the natural endowments of the leading lady.
As the forester, De Guzman gets his lengthy climate change message across while increasingly attracted to the apple of his eye.
Coleen as the young, distraught doctor in the barrio delivers a natural, if, spontaneous performance worthy of an acting award. Her refreshing face magically fills up the screen and it calls to mind the close-ups of Isabelle Adjani in Truffaut’s The Story of Adele H.
Direk Veronica is in control of her material and by a stroke of good editing, the life and times of a suicidal doctor unfolds with an urgent message that will make climate change activist Greta Thunberg happy.
True, Mia is a love story with good lessons to share. It also informs as it heals. That sequel about reforesting an exploited land takes the cake. I am sure climate change movers will applaud.
The musical scoring is spare but effective. One is sure millennials will rejoice upon hearing the apt soundtrack (“Sa Iba Na Lang” performed by duo B.O.U. and “Ikaw Na Nga Talaga” by 1:43) which blends beautifully with the story.
Produced by Insight 360 Films in partnership with Viva Films, Mia opens in cinemas January 15.