‘Ulan’ Review: Spellbinding and Unique

ULAN (2019) Review
Directed by Irene Villamor

Maybe all director Irene Villamor needed was to prove that she’s a great storyteller for VIVA Films have her the freedom to do her own thing. And after Meet Me in St. Gallen and Sid & Aya (Not a Love Story) being both critically-acclaimed and box-office hits, her first passion project was greenlit. That’s just me. Maybe I’m wrong.

But let’s talk about how brave ‘Ulan’ is. Not just for casting Nadine Lustre without James Reid but mostly for its courage to go beyond the norm. It’s not just a drama story, not just a romance movie, not just a coming-of-age story, ‘Ulan’ has a lot of themes it wants to show, and all of it were delivered with flying colors.

The story, I think most of us were curious after seeing the trailer. Everything it revealed made the film mysterious. But surprisingly, the story of ‘Ulan’ is more straightforward than you would expect. Not that that’s a bad thing, at first maybe, but as the story progresses, the world Maya is in and the world she built in her head, they flowed smoothly.

Smoothly as in this is a story invested with love and careful details. And that’s a plus for us audience because even when something weird is happening or being shown, it doesn’t feel out of place.

Poetic, but in a for-all-ages level. It’s like reading Alice in Wonderland but instead of falling into a rabbit hole, Maya remains to our world and the mysterious beings are the one who wander around her. But ‘Ulan’ is very much Filipino through and through.

The core of ‘Ulan’ is Nadine Lustre. She’s a true Pinay beauty, perfect to portray someone who seeks for love but still looks inexperienced or naive. She’s a natural, the way her eyes are when her character Maya is sad, lonely, happy, excited, heartbroken. She’s Maya, she embraced her character wholeheartedly.

‘Ulan’ may be weird at first but when you embrace its weirdness, it becomes a fulfilling movie experience. Because you get to join Maya in her journey of finding love through heartaches and a little bit of eccentricity.

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‘Ulan’ is now showing in cinemas nationwide from VIVA Films, N2 Productions and HOOQ. Rated PG by the MTRCB.

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