When Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga starred in the 2014 romantic-comedy “Starting Over Again,” neither they nor Star Cinema expected their untested team-up to rake in more than P400 million at the box-office. Given the very pleasant surprise, their home network, ABS-CBN, quickly planned a prime time drama for the pair—its working title, “Written in Our Stars”—, which never made it to the small screen. The reason, however, was a very happy one, because Gonzaga, then newly married to director Paul Soriano, was pregnant with their first child.
Three years since then, the “right time” for their reunion has finally come as they return to cinemas with “Last Night.”
“We were both free to commit to what we both agree is a very good movie to offer the Filipino audience,” said Gonzaga.
With a screenplay from actress Bela Padilla and direction by Joyce Bernal, Last Night is a two-character movie about one final evening shared by strangers Mark (Pascual) and Carmina (Gonzaga) both on the verge of taking their own lives.
Padilla shared her idea for the story was inspired by two people she and ex-boyfriend Neil Arce—whose N2 Productions is co-producing the movie—saw on a bridge while driving one night. From there, she allowed her imagination to take flight.
Arce clarified however that Last Night is not a movie about suicide. “It’s a love story that happens to begin when the characters find themselves contemplating suicide. That’s where their story jumps off but it’s not about taking one’s life.”
Besides the story, the cast and producers of the movie are also proud to show the historic city of Manila as a backdrop. Last Night was shot entirely in the country’s capital with hopes that the audience will fall in love with the city all over again.
As Padilla put it, “Manila is such a beautiful city. Bakit pa tayo lalayo eh ang daming magagandang lugar dito?”
Edgier, more mature
The direction and theme of the movie settled, Pascual and Gonzaga assured fans their new project is not a rendition of Marco and Ginny’s love story in their first movie together.
“This movie is very different from our first one in the sense that Mark and Carmina love story is edgier and more dangerous,” Pascual shared noting that his alter ego in the big screen is at the lowest and darkest phase of his life.
“For me, I’d say that the characters in this new movie are coming from a much deeper background. For example, my character Carmina is at a point where she has lost all her hopes and she thought doon na siya magtatapos,” Gonzaga shared.
“It’s dark, the theme is very dark, and yet it’s still very hopeful and romantic,” the actress added.
As for the pressure to either match or surpass their surprise hit, Pascual easily dismissed it and said it’s not their main goal as of the moment.
“Hindi kami nagpapadala sa pressure na ‘yun,” Pascual said convincingly.
Back to basic
Finally, besides its likeness to the tandem’s first big screen outing, Last Night is also being compared to the onslaught of two-character movies such as “Kita Kita,” “100 Tula Para Kay Stella” and “Love You to the Stars and Back” which all received much love from moviegoers lately.
Padilla admitted that more than bringing kilig to the movie, she would very much like for the audience to feel that like Gonzaga and Pascual’s characters, everyone has his or her own battle.
“At lahat ng problemang yun ay seryoso in equal ways,” the scriptwriter noted.
Meanwhile, the director admitted, “As for me, I want the audience to go out of the cinema laughing or crying, not certain what to feel about the movie.”
Arguably, these are the same goals that aforementioned two-character movie have achieved with flying colors.
But before naysayers could react that it’s the new fad in the film industry—much like the theme of infidelity—Bernal quickly came in defense.
“I’d like to think that this trend is a sign of the times—that it’s really not about the world but the individual. I think it has a lot to do with the larger-than-life events that we see on television, on social media, that we are now going back to basic and listen to who we really are.
“Kumbaga, simplehan natin para hindi kasing-kumplikado ng lahat ng nangyayari sa mundo ngayon,” Bernal ended.