Netflixable? Young Filipinos learn “Love is Colorblind”

Domino learned to paint from his famous painter mother, and learned about love from his famous painter father.

Love is “when you see colors you’ve never seen before” you’ll know, father Fidel counsels.

Ino may have had that very experience in high school. But being forever slow on the uptake, he pretty much missed it when Cara had a “red panda” experience in class and he saw “a new shade of red.”

That seriously awkward moment in remembered in a flashback in the Filipino teen romance “Love is Color Blind,” a mild-mannered and oh-so-slow/low-heat-or-no-heat affair that reinforces the notion that girls mature faster and young women “figure it out” long before hapless boys and men.

Because Cara (Belle Mariano) has crushed on Ino (Donny Pangilinan) since high school, obsessively emailing, texting and tagging him as she studied in Hong Kong.

Brooding Ino, juggling jobs and struggling to pay the bills as a tattoo artist, isn’t getting back to her. She has to stalk him and literally throw herself in his arms to get his attention.

He explains his philosophy to kid he’s tutoring in English online.

“Sometimes you have to let go of that person for their own good.”

Something happened to Ino, and all of Cara’s flirting, courting and “take you back to 2013” school reminiscing to jog his memory, his creative passion and his sense of color won’t work.

Ino had an accident.

“Love in Color Blind” is a classic short-story-long, the opposite of a long-story-short. That simple set-up is drawn out, dragged out, giving up its secrets in teeny tiny dollops. Complications such as the guy (Jeremiah Lisbo) who crushed on Cara way back when is now a hunk and still interested, and a pretty stranger (Angelina Cruz) falls under Ino’s unhappy, irresistible spell interrupt Ino’s slow journey from reconciling himself to what happened, and why he’s having so much trouble creating a centerpiece for a tribute art exhibit to his mother.

The young lovers are pleasant enough together, but there’s not much in the way of sparks. It’s a chaste romance that only bubbles to life when Cara gets tipsy at a campfire party because Ino has taken up with another girl.

The film has a little Harvey Fierstein novelty bit. John Lapus plays Cara’s Aunt Vicki, the baker in the family who has little usable advice for her niece, just a lusty appreciation of the newly hunky Sky (Lisbo) who has shown up to make her forget about Ino.

The screenplay is so seriously Cara-Ino centric that most supporting characters have almost no purpose and make no impression. But if you don’t add complications, flashbacks that gradually fill in the blanks of Ino’s shortcomings as a beau and sad solitude as a young adult, and the like, “Love is Color Blind” might have been a brisk 75 minute romance. And we can’t have that.

Co-star Mariano even croons a “For Your Eyes Only” love ballad (not the Bond movie theme) on the soundtrack at one point.

Movies from the less sexually charged corners of the world cinema can’t help but play as tame, tepid and flat in the West, and “Color Blind” never escapes this trap. It’s not charming, cute, sweet or sad enough to shed the dull straightjacket the screenplay straps it into.

Rating: TV-PG

Cast: Belle Mariano, Donny Pangilinan, Angelina Cruz, Jeremiah Lisbo, Eula Valdez, John Lapus and Ariel Rivera.

Credits: Directed by John Leo Garcia, scripted by Kristine Gabriel and Simon A. Arciaga. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:55

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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