It’s so simple an idea but it works. “Kita Kita” is really just a two-actor film about a Filipino tour guide in Saporro, Japan, who gets her heart broken and goes blind. Her neighbor, also a Filipino, comes over to her house every day to try and cheer her up and a romance blossoms between them.
The movie revolves around this simple plot yet it fills out its 84-minute running time and leaves you completely satisfied at the end. There’s this push and pull about the gimmick of her being blind but it’s used more narratively, and even lyrically, than it is for easy jokes.
It seems, in its trailers, that the comedy is going to stem from Empoy Marquez being not the typical matinee idol and romantic lead type for a woman as gorgeous as Alessandra de Rossi except, since she’s blind, she doesn’t know that.
But the film never goes there. It doesn’t go for the easy laughs. Her blindness is caused by the stress of her breakup, and she is shut out from life, and Marquez’s Tonyo asks her to be his tour guide as he will be her eyes.
What unfolds is a story about kindness and how it can warm even the coldest of hearts. The film utilizes Empoy Marquez’s magnificent comic timing and transforms him into this charming leading man, who becomes ideal because he comes off as a genuinely nice guy.
And without acting with her eyes, Alessandra de Rossi shows us how her walls and her bitterness are slowly taken down one by one. It’s all body language and voice acting. She begins very hard, her voice deep with layer of threatening. But as Tonyo continues to charm his way into Lea’s heart, she gets soft, her voice gets sweeter. It’s a lovely subtle performance by de Rossi.
And writer/director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo knows what to do with her camera. In a film about not being able to see, she knows when to give us close-ups and knows when to zoom out.
She frames the couple amidst a backdrop of a quaint and rural Japan with the knowledge that one of these characters cannot see it. But in the breaking down of Lea’s walls, the grand architecture or the fields of multi-colored flowers become symbols of Lea’s internal world. It’s a lovely use of cinematography for a film like this.
For 84 minutes, you are watching this love story materialize in front of your eyes and it hinges on Marquez being charming and de Rossi falling for the charms, and it’s best shown in what seem like unscripted moments and improvised scenes.
And just when you’ve been convinced, the film brings you to another level entirely and takes you on another journey that is surprising and profound.
“Kita Kita” is a charming film that gives us a fresh look into the rom-com genre. It doesn’t rely on prefabricated chemistry or overly complicated plots. It’s just two amazing actors going through the process without being flashy or trendy or cool. And with the simplest of plots, we’ve come to realize that that is enough for us to enjoy going to the cinema.