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Movie Review: Under Parallel Skies - A Simple Yet Profound Romance

Janella Salvador and Win Metawin shine in director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo's award-winning, cross-country romantic comedy film, "Under Parallel Skies".

By Karina ThyraPublished about a month ago 4 min read
Top Story - May 2024
Janella Salvador as Iris and Win Metawin as Parin in "Under Parallel Skies" | Image: 28 Squared Studios

Life hits us when we least expect it, but that doesn’t mean the experience cannot be enjoyable. To paraphrase the protagonists of Under Parallel Skies, life happens in these little transitions.

Set against the fast-paced backdrop of Hong Kong and the relaxed, quiet life of its island Peng Chau, the story begins. Parin (Win Metawin), a Thai national who has been in a depressive state for a while, narrates his experiences. We first see him on the beach of Peng Chau, where a girl named Thea (Janella Salvador) asks if he is Parin. The mysterious woman bears a striking resemblance (save for an overbite) to Parin’s former partner Iris, who had abruptly disappeared.

The premise of the film is simple, sometimes even predictable. In an era where romantic fictions like Bridgerton get criticized for being unrealistic and formulaic, a film like Under Parallel Skies serves as a reminder of why audiences still love a good romantic story, even if it’s ‘formulaic’ or trite. Critics sometimes forget that in romantic stories, as in life, the journey matters as much, if not more, than the destination. Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s Under Parallel Skies is more realistic and simple than most recent romcoms. Some of us might find ourselves in these situations, although we can only hope our romances play out better than Iris and Parin’s.

Janella Salvador and Win Metawin in "Under Parallel Skies" | Image: 28 Squared Studios

Iris is a hotel receptionist tasked with handling an unruly and drunk guest, Bhuritparin. Often, she drags him by his feet into his hotel suite because she is too short and petite to carry him properly. Early on, we see the chemistry between the two characters, so it comes as no surprise that they eventually develop from acquaintances to "BF as in best friend," and finally, into a couple. Parin’s main reason for going to Hong Kong is to find his mother, who left their family because she was no longer happy. Once Parin finds his mother, he learns a valuable lesson about holding onto true happiness once he finds it.

However, life is unpredictable, and we must learn to take the good along with the bad, often compartmentalizing emotions to avoid breaking down at the slightest inconvenience. Janella Salvador and Win Metawin deliver the subtle and palpable vulnerability required for their roles. Under Parallel Skies starts lightheartedly, almost setting the audience up for a deceitful end, raising questions: Would we want our loved ones to see us suffering? Would we want them to see us at our worst? Would we hide our sickness from them to spare them awful and painful memories?

These questions are followed by more: Wouldn’t that take away their choice? Isn’t it selfish to leave someone hanging instead of telling them the truth and letting them choose whether to stay or go? In this film, the truth is a double-edged sword. For those who have had partners abandon them when they got sick, it might seem practical and less painful to be the first to leave, like a dying cat hiding from its caretakers.

Although this is a pessimistic view, in the worst case, it’s easier for some to leave their significant other who has fallen ill or, in the worst and most pathetic cases, to be unfaithful rather than upfront. In real life, these scenarios are difficult to discuss—the caregiving stage in a relationship is challenging, and one is fortunate if a long-term relationship doesn’t go awry because of this hurdle. Whether it makes the couple stronger or breaks them up, the important thing is to avoid resentment, which only causes further hurt and pain.

In Under Parallel Skies, this cynical view isn’t explored. Instead, Iris and Parin’s romance is brief but intense. Their love blooms like an epiphyllum, lasting only a short time before it wilts and dies. However, it remains beautiful long after it’s gone, evolving rather than vanishing.

There were moments in the film that made me question a character’s decision—wasn’t it unfair to decide on behalf of someone else? I thought it was a misplaced sacrifice, but in the end, what does it matter? We all depart from this world like footprints in the sand, washed away by waves, remembered only by those who knew us.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Under Parallel Skies hits the sweet spot at 110 minutes, making it a relatively short and sweet movie. As a Filipino who has been in Thailand for nearly five years, the film felt like a homecoming. Janella Salvador’s dramatic prowess shines in moments where her character must be vulnerable or conceal it. Meanwhile, Win Metawin’s winsome smile, subtle glances, and gentle narration effectively evoke sympathy for his character's losses. Sigrid Andrea Bernardo skillfully weaves humanistic stories together, intertwining Filipino and Thai cultures against the backdrop of a bustling city—an anathema to the Thais’ “sabai-sabai” (relaxed) and the Filipinos' “mañana” (later) attitudes. The movie was a delight, even though I expected a romcom, and it turned out differently (for me, at least!)

Janella Salvador and Win Metawin in "Under Parallel Skies" | Image: 28 Squared Studios

It's lovely to see Filipino creatives collaborating with other countries on this scale and achieving cross-national releases. The film’s beauty lies in its simplicity and its ability to draw us in, inviting us to pause and appreciate life’s little transitions. Five out of five stars.

Under Parallel Skies is still showing in cinemas.

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About the Creator

Karina Thyra

Fangirl of sorts.

Twitter: @ArianaGsparks

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Comments (5)

  • Anna about a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story! :)

  • Atif S.about a month ago

    Rom coms are my least favourite genre of film, but I’m tempted to give this a go because of your review.

  • Jenelynnnoabout a month ago

    Kailangan ko na talagang mapanuod to! Super ganda ng review!❤️

  • Renjiabout a month ago

    After reading your review, I"ll prolly watch it.

  • Johannes Diestelbergabout a month ago

    What an exceptional review! Although I haven't seen the movie yet, this review has certainly piqued my interest.

Karina ThyraWritten by Karina Thyra

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