One Friday night, I spent two hours reading She’s Dating the Gangster instead of actually having a life. Why? Because one, I plan to watch the movie. And two, I always prefer reading the book first before watching the movie adaptation.
I’m not new to reading internet novels, but I wasn’t prepared for this one. All the curse words flashed through my head while reading the novel as everything I seem to hate in a Koreanovela, or a fanfiction, exists in the book. I finished it in one go and almost threw the book across the room. After calming down, I reasoned that I’m probably not part of the book’s target audience so I should not be too mad about it.
However, I still plan to watch the movie. I know, I know. If I hate it so much, why I do plan to waste my 200PHP for the movie? Because I like KathNiel and the trailer looks fun.
I’m pretty sure the movie won’t be phenomenal, but I’m also sure that it won’t be as cringe-worthy as the book. They already said that they did many changes from the source material, so that gives me hope.
If you’ll let me, there are some things I wish to see in the movie.
1. Character development for Athena and Kenji
Because there’s none in the book. I get it, it’s marketed for teens. But even a children’s book has some semblance of character development. If growth for the characters isn’t possible, then I at least hope that their personalities are established throughout the movie. Athena seems to have a multiple-personality disorder and has no mind of her own in most situations. I want my heroine to be strong and fierce and not become a noble idiot. As for Kenji, I hope he grows a backbone.
2. Reasonable and normal dialogue
I haven’t read the original She’s Dating the Gangster, but I heard it’s in Tagalog. As for the the book, the conversations often have no flow and contrived at best. Though I’m not exactly looking for quotable quotes in the movie, it’ll be nice to hear fun banter between the leads and dialogue that will actually make you listen (and swoon).
3. Sanity for the ex-girlfriend, Athena Abigail
Second leads can be irritating and frustrating, but they can be pretty great, too. Abi, the ex-girlfriend, is a two-dimensional character who can’t seem to discern her rightful place and borders on being psychotic and manipulative. I hope she doesn’t hog too much screen time because I’ll definitely hurl.
4. Good editing
There are many abrupt change of scenes in the book. Also, there are some parts that happen way too fast. The narrator’s point-of-view also shifts between Athena and Kenji, but this isn’t balanced out. But I believe a good editing can salvage a rather messy story.
5. Better styling for Kenji
Nowhere in the text did I see Kenji to look like a modern-day albularyo, so it’s surprising how they decided to style him in such way. I do hope he gets a makeover as he did in the book because that bandana isn’t doing wonders for him.
For a movie marketed as a romantic comedy, the source isn’t very humorous. I trust that the scriptwriters managed to wedge some fun in the movie. It’s actually funny in a it’s-so-bad-it’s-so-funny kind of way, but that’s not the humor audience appreciate. Daniel Padilla has comic timing and I hope they put it to good use.
7. A sensible ending
One that won’t you scratch your head in frustration. One that won’t make you storm out off the cinema feeling cheated. One that will actually feel right and doesn’t seem forced. Basically, an ending that’s not rushed and can wrap up the story well. It’s not too much to ask, right?
It seems a bit scary to say anything negative about this movie, especially when you’re dealing with the fanbase of KathNiel and She’s Dating the Gangster. But I am rooting for Philippine cinema and literature to churn out more quality results, so critiquing is necessary. We have so may talented creatives, and they deserve all the chance to shine. And just because this is a movie targeted for teens, it doesn’t mean quality of production and story should be compromised.
Are you planning to see the movie? Why or why not? Violent reactions are welcome in the comments.
[Photo credits: Star Cinema]