Saturday, June 29, 2019

My Letters to Happy + Thoughts on Depression

A brilliant man loses his drive after a series of unfortunate events. His luck changes as he meets a random person online that would change his life forever.

Career-oriented Albert does not have time for love, or so he tells himself. He slaves away at his high-profile job when a sudden loss takes him by surprise, and he retreats into himself. At his lowest, he meets Happy: joy personified, the woman of his dreams come to life. She jolts him out of his sadness into the light, something he never thought he would see again, until he finally feels whole. Then, things take a turn when he learns Happy's bouts of happiness do not last very long and she is battling a mental illness that is plunging her to depression.

Earlier tonight, I attended the premiere screening of My Letters to Happy at SM Megamall. Initially, I thought it was going to be just another love story (it's what happens when you read the synopsis after the movie haha) but it was so much more than I prepared for. It's a movie that tackles depression and mental health, something that not a lot of directors/producers would go for because it's such a touchy subject. But Director Pertee Briñas did it, and he did it well. "As creators, we are given the unique opportunity to get our voices out there. We tell stories that reach so many people through different media and this is why telling stories is powerful. As a director, I found no better way to push awareness towards the silent, sensitive topic of mental health other than the big screen. I write love stories for a living. Romance is really my core genre when it comes to screenwriting. So, for my 28th birthday, I promised myself that I will create a story that will not only entertain but also create awareness, something that will start a much-needed conversation. My Letters to Happy is my love letter to everyone who feels alone in this world. To everyone who feels that nobody understands them. To people who have lost hope in the world. It is my letter to myself, reminding me that all struggles always come to an end; and that when the pressures get too tough to handle, it just means that the chapter is about to end and a new one will soon begin. The film is an honest reflection of our lives as people, tasked to march this world amidst all its difficulties. It is a reflection of how unpredictable life is, when it comes to meeting people who have the ability to change us forever."

It's an all too true topic that not a lot of people talk about. Many experience depression and have mental illnesses but these are often set aside and seen as something irrelevant and unimportant. Why is that? What we don't realize is the magnitude of this. People who have it are often judged or seen as OA (overacting). Like in the movie, Happy's issues aren't that big of a deal for normal people, but you can't really say that to someone who's depressed. All you can do is try to understand them and be there for them, otherwise they retreat further into their shells. One minute they can be happy and jumping for joy, and the next, sitting in the corner of the room, crying. I personally don't have a lot of experience with it. I mean, I've been crazy sad before but I'm not sure it counts as depression? I honestly do not know what depressed people think about or how one can definitely say that they're depressed. I guess it's just really important to have people to talk to and have a support group that doesn't go and say "hoy, ang arte mo" when you start opening up to them. 

I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with this, but I really wanted to share some of my learnings from the movie. I saw it with one of my best friends and the storyline is something he actually went through so I know for a fact these things happen in real life. I know we can get caught up with work and the fast-paced lives we have now, my only wish is that we all find people whom we can talk to and open up to 100% anytime, anywhere. If you have someone, consider yourself lucky.

Overall, the movie was a mix of happy, sad, and funny moments. At first, I thought Glaiza's acting was too much, but it made more sense as the movie progressed. TJ fit the role well too, someone who's initially all work and no play then slowly becoming more vulnerable and open to change and new things and love. What I didn't like with the movie was the cinematography. There were a lot of movement with the camera even though the actors were just sitting down and talking. Nakakahilo siya, but I think I eventually got used to it. Anyway, sharing the trailer here:
My Letters to Happy is showing on July 17, 2019.
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