Barcelona: A Love Untold is the kind of “transition film” that shows just how much more Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla are as actors without resorting to the traditional approach to maturity that is—to become sexy.
Although the newest Olivia Lamasan masterpiece did show some sensual moments thanks to Daniel’s shirtless scenes by the beach and Kathryn’s shocking flamenco dancing scene, it actually highlights the amount of depth the lead stars gave their respective scarred, millennial characters named Ely and Mia respectively.
While the film was initially introduced as a romance-drama, even sparking comparisons to Inang’s 2004 film Milan starring Claudine Barretto and Piolo Pascual thanks to its teaser and trailer, romance is not the main premise of the film.
While it was teeming with “kilig scenes,” especially during the time Ely and Mia started falling for each other while discovering their individual stories, capacities and motivations, the film however kept the umbrella concept behind the metaphor of Sagrada Familia—that it is forgiveness and atonement.
In Ely’s and Mia’s cases though, they are finding forgiveness for things that they have done others when in fact they ought to be working on forgiving themselves.
Mia flew to Barcelona in hopes of straightening out her life after committing a major mistake in the Philippines that left her father loathing her.
Ely, for his part, has been in the city for a while as a graduate student of architecture pursuing a course that would make his love interest Celine proud. Along with this, he moonlights as a waiter; tour guide and photographer to send money to his family back home.
He lives in Barcelona with his insightful and hard-working aunt Insiang played by Aiko Melendez and his funny and obedient cousin Tonying played by Joshua Garcia. While he has a close relationship with the two, Ely isn’t on good terms with his moneyed, biological mother played by Maria Isabel Lopez who also lives in Barcelona.
Daniel and Kathryn are no strangers to characters with family issues as their past film Crazy Beautiful You has already explored that terrain.
But as Ely and Mia, they showed a wider range of emotions that is expected from an Olivia Lamasan film. This got them stepping out of the typical kilig and cute approach that has been the boon and bane of their acting careers.
Daniel has worked wonders with his eyes and his speaking skills throughout the film. But he particularly owned Ely as he threw the scathing lines without any hint of hesitation either towards the “weak” Mia or his once irresponsible mother. Meanwhile, fans would get a glimpse as to how his Catalan language classes with Kathryn paid off, as he convincingly delivered and conversed with the other characters as if it was his local tongue. In fact, he even had a confrontation scene with Mia where he spoke purely Catalan.
Kathryn was a revelation. Although she threw some punchy lines during the numerous confrontation scenes that Ely and Mia had, Kathryn’s acting transcended the quiet moments when she just dropped the painful lines without the need for big gestures or moments. Her ferris wheel ride with Ely and after dinner scene that Mia setup for Ely is a huge example of Kathryn’s quiet acting.
Inang, for her part, made good with her promise about the film becoming a “virtual tour” to the best spots in Barcelona.
From the majestic Sagrada Familia to Park Guell to the Magic Fountain of Montjuic to the vibrant Sitges beach down to the old small Spanish streets and bridges and even the quaint souvenir shops and restaurants, every venue was used for memorable scenes for Mia and Ely that was seamlessly incorporated throughout the script.
In terms of its screenplay, Carmi Raymundo made sure that the heartbreaking lines and confrontations that Ely and Mia showcased during the teaser were only just that—a teaser. Apparently, Carmi and Inang left a lot more for the moviegoers to enjoy in the actual film.
Interestingly, Carmi, along with Daniel and Kathryn, made a huge statement that caused the audience to gasp when they incorporated the lines “pabebe” (a criticism typically thrown at Kathryn’s acting) and “shut up na lang” (a line that got Daniel bashed during the past election season) into the film.
Furthermore, the fact that the film is not solely about romance also made its “maturity” unconventional in the sense that Kathryn and Daniel were not limited to just revealing skin or just kissing each other (finally!) to their hearts content. Although fans might need to prepare their hearts for that much-awaited, real-deal kiss of their idols. The kisses made sense to the story and were not just done just to check one thing off of the love team’s bucket list.
In the end, more than just being tagged as the film where they finally kissed, Barcelona: A Love Untold marks a new era for Kathryn and Daniel because it makes moviegoers appreciate them not just as a bankable love team, but also as bona fide dramatic actors that have successfully gotten past their teeny bopper roles.