20 Jan 1ST KO SI 3RD: THOROUGHLY PLEASANT
by Philbert Dy
1st Ko Si 3rd tells the story of Cory (Nova Villa), who has just retired. At first, she looks forward to just spending time with her husband Andong (Dante Rivero), but it doesn’t take very long for her to grow restless with all her free time. Then one day, she catches a glimpse of Third (Freddie Webb), an old flame who just happens to be back in town. This brings back a flood of memories that has Cory reassessing her choices.
The premise brings up all sorts of dramatic possibilities, but 1st Ko Si 3rd never really rises above its modest ambitions. This is not entirely a bad thing. The film provides an altogether pleasant time in the theater, with a simple story elevated by really charming performances from the film’s leads. But as the film slowly marches towards its anticlimax, audiences, like the main character, may be left asking “what if?”
The film is reserved to a fault. The mild tone works for much of the picture, as it maps out the details of the main character’s new, retired life. Rather than go for broad comedy, the film sketches out a life filled with tedium but dotted with little spots of joy. The movie doesn’t make senior life look enviable, but neither does it make it look miserable. Th ere’s something really powerful in that, the film employing a sort of grace often unavailable to local comedies. This isn’t a story where people are made to look like clowns. It finds the quiet humor and drama of everyday living.
But there are points where it feels like the film should have gone a little further, where a measure of unreserved passion might have been warranted. It is perhaps most evident in the flashback scenes, the ones that tell the story of a younger Cory falling in love for the very first time. The film doesn’t do a great job of selling this initial romance, never making it feel like the kind of affair that might cause such great strife in the main character. And the story just stops short of its most interesting narrative possibility, the film avoiding the dramatic struggles that could have really brought to story to a higher level.
But the lighthearted tone has its own charms. The humor doesn’t always work, but it all seems to come from such an earnest place. The production is simple, but elegant enough for what the film is trying to deliver. The main attraction here is Nova Villa, who plays Cory with unmatched grace. Villa still glows on screen, her vitality and charisma just flowing out in every scene. Villa is in fact so good that it makes one yearn for more challenging material. Dante Rivero is excellent as well, playing out unwritten lines with subtle changes of expression.
1st Ko Si 3rd is perfectly all right as it is. It’s just that the other paths it could have taken seem equally if not more enticing. It doesn’t tell much of a story in the end, the film backing away just when things seemed to really get interesting. But it doesn’t really matter all that much. While the movie runs a bit long, it mostly makes it a pleasure to stay within its presence. With its light heart and its charming lead, 1st Ko Si 3rd doesn’t have to work too hard to win people over.