15 November 2014

That Thing Called Tadhana

Title: That Thing Called Tadhana
English Title:
  • That Thing Called Destiny
  • That Thing Called Fate
  • That Thing Called 'Meant to Be'
Country: Philippines
  • English
  • Filipino
Year: 2014
  • Angelica Panganiban
  • JM de Guzman
  • Joem Bascon

Whitney Houston - Where Do Broken Hearts Go?
A story about a broken-hearted girl who meets a boy in a not so normal way. Together, they go to places and find out "where do broken hearts go?"

That Thing Called Tadhana is an interesting movie about moving on from a past love, and finding friendship and maybe even love in the unlikeliest ways.

What I liked best about it are the symbolism and visual cues that reflect the story development. The most obvious one is probably the baggage metaphor.

According to Mace Castillo, her luggage contains her whole life, and it can also be construed as her emotional turmoil regarding her long-term relationship that ended fairly recently. The same goes for Anthony Lagdameo although his own serious relationship ended a few years ago. She has two big and heavy suitcases, whereas Anthony has a small and light one.

When Mace asked Anthony to carry some of her things in his suitcase so that she'll meet the baggage allowance requirements, it was a scene that fits the movie thematically although it's not necessary realistically as Mace and Anthony could just check in together and share the baggage allowance for two passengers between the two of them. However, when Mace asked Anthony to carry some of her possessions, it can mean that she'll unload some of her hang-ups on him and he'll be her sounding board.

When they were walking and Anthony offered to help her carry her suitcase, Mace insisted that although her suitcases are heavy, she'll carry it herself. The scene shows that she's the only one who can carry her burden. She'll manage to deal with it, albeit slowly, and she'll be fine somehow.

Mace and Anthony left their suitcases in Baguio when they went to Sagada, and Mace decided they shouldn't go back to retrieve their luggage. They went on with their travel plans, and it indicates that they will eventually learn to live their lives without their past relationships hounding them.

Like I said, I'm impressed how some things and small actions can speak volumes about the characters' emotional states and the relationship between them.

When they first met, Mace finishes her drink while Anthony barely drank his, Anthony is almost done eating while Mace is just halfway through her food, they don't sing together, and one walks ahead of the other. I think it shows that they are not on the same wavelength.

After spending some time together and after getting to know each other, Anthony and Mace are now in sync. They are walking side by side, and they drink coffee simultaneously.

Anyway, I enjoyed their impromptu trip to Baguio and then to Sagada because I'm not really the type who goes anywhere unplanned. I don't think I could be like Mace and Anthony who travel on a whim with someone they barely know. I mean, if I ever go on a trip without planning ahead, I'd probably go alone rather than go with a stranger.

I appreciate that you can watch the movie at face value, and you can also come up with deeper interpretations if you're so inclined. Mace and Anthony's road trip to Baguio and Sagada can be just simply about a couple's travels, but it can also be interpreted as how life is a journey where we are influenced by the people we meet along the way.

Mace and Anthony have a lot of interesting conversations but my favorite is when they were taking about unfulfilled potentials for greatness and unrealized dreams of success.

Mace Castillo: Aren't we supposed to be great by this time?
Mace Castillo: (Let's toast) to the great people we could have been.
Anthony Lagdameo: I don't think I want to drink to that.
Mace Castillo: (Then, let's toast) to the great people we are today.
Anthony Lagdameo: Liar.
Mace Castillo: To the great people... we will be?
Anthony Lagdameo: To the great people we will be.

Most people hope to have it all together by a certain age but more often than not, most people fail to meet these expectations, whatever they may be, by whatever deadline they may have set.

Although it's frustrating when we don't get to become these amazing individuals that our younger selves wanted us to be, I find comfort in thinking that we are all still works-in-progress. We really have no other choice but to work hard and try to get as close to our ideal selves as possible.

The movie references two other Filipino films quite extensively. The first one is One More Chance, which I found entertaining but didn't really like all that much as it was too dramatic for me. I haven't watched the second one so I don't know its title or what it's all about.

That Thing Called Tadhana is ultimately, as its title alludes to, about destiny or fate. Is it strictly something that determines what is meant to happen, and then makes whatever it is happen? Do people have more agency in their lives, and do they really have more control in what happens in their relationships?

I like that there is no definite conclusion on what destiny or fate is in the film. Depending on your personal convictions, it's up to you to define what it is and it's for you to decide how much importance you'll give it when it comes to living your life.

That Thing Called Tadhana