Film Review: Once in a Blue Moon
Three generations in the patriarchal lineage are represented in this romantic quest for true love. Grandfather Manuel Pineda has been diagnosed with terminal leukemia, widowed son Roderigo Pineda struggles with loneliness and lack of respect at his job, and newlywed grandson is already having marital problems with his restless bride.
With only a few months left to live, the elder Manuel grows wistful for a woman named Corazon from his past and embarks on a quest to find her. He travels alone by bus to Ilocos, but when he discovers that she is no longer at her last known address, he drowns his sorrows in a local bar and wakes up on the lawn of the town hall. A kindly policeman wakes him and helps him contact his son Rod to come and pick him up, and grandson Kyle comes along for the ride.
On the way home, things become tense between Manuel and Rod over the mysterious Corazon, but when Manuel begins to recount his love story to his grandson, Kyle offers to help him continue on his quest to find her. Along the way, a romantic tale told in lengthy flashbacks unfolds.
The story begins in the 1930s, in the high school where Manuel and his best friend Domingo are both in love with a girl named Corazon, who happens to share the same name with her best friend. Corazon, the object of the boys' affection, is nicknamed Azon, while her best friend goes by Cora. Although each is beautiful in her own way, Azon is crowned the winner of the town beauty pageant, while Cora, "the girl next door," watches from afar with the two love-struck boys.
After graduation, Azon moves to Manila with her mother, and with World War II raging on, the two boys enlist in the Philippine army. On the evening of December 6th, 1941, the boys spot Azon in an officer's club and the young Manuel declares to Domingo he will finally ask her to dance. But before he can act upon his intentions, news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor summons them to war and he is once again separated from Azon. But when Manuel is wounded in the war, he is reunited with her friend Cora, who works as a nurse in the military hospital. Throughout the course of his recovery, love blossoms between them, and when Cora becomes pregnant, the two are married. But when Cora realizes that Manuel still pines for Azon, she leaves him to care for baby Roderigo alone, and both Corazons are now lost to him...that is until many years later when he embarks on his romantic quest. But which Corazon does he seek?
In his inimitable style, Once in a Blue Moon is yet another epic romance by Philippine director Joel Lamangan. The ensemble cast includes Eddie Garcia as Manuel, Christopher De Leon as his son Rod, Dennis Trillo as grandson Kyle, Mark Herras as the young Manuel, Jennylyn Mercado as a young Cora, and Pauleen Luna as young Azon. Complex in its characterization, and lush in its production, this sweeping panorama spans three generations and seven decades. With its heartfelt performances and romantically laden storyline, Once in a Blue Moon is a classic "chick flick." But with its decidedly male perspective, it's a chick flick for the fellas.