Synopsis: After being away for 17 years, New York-based chef Carl (Aga Muhlach) returns to the country to marry his supermodel fiancée, Chrissy, in her hometown of Albay. The bride-to-be, however, is still stuck in Europe for a photo shoot. Carl takes care of the preparations with Chrissy’s family and eventually falls for her sister, Lena (Claudine Barretto).
Express from Bicol
With the working title Ginataang Apoy (which is a native Bicolano cuisine), Kailangan Kita was originally planned to be a full-on food movie showcasing sumptuous local dishes. Changes to the script were eventually made, probably to appeal to a general audience. But still, even as the film’s focus shifted to the love affair between Lena and Carl, food remains a significant part of the movie.
Passion for Cooking
Lena, just like Carl, has a natural talent for cooking. The only difference is that he specializes in haute cuisine, while she’s more into spicy local dishes, like laing.
Apart from their shared passion for food, Lena and Carl have other things in common. They are both from Bicol (Carl’s family is originally from Sorsogon). And they both have issues with their respective fathers. (Again, what’s a Filipino movie without family drama?)
Lena once fell in love with a member of the NPA and the controversy that ensued led to her dad’s defeat in the town’s mayoral election. Since then, she has become the outcast in her family. Meanwhile, Carl holds a grudge against his father, who abandoned their family when he was still a child.
Yes, Sensei. Teach Me Your Ways
One of the film’s highlights (other than the much-touted Aga-Claudine love scene) is the sequence wherein Carl learns how to cook laing. Lena knows a blind old man who cooks the best-tasting laing in town and introduces him to the young chef.
If you are familiar with the original Karate Kid movie, the blind man and Carl’s scenes are kind of this movie’s wax on, wax off. Except with dramatic music and a slightly predictable twist.
“Pare-pareho lang naman ang pagluto ng laing. Pare-pareho rin ang mga rekado. Pero siguro, iba lang ang gata ko. Punung-puno ito ng pagmamahal.”
Generally, Kailangan Kita is more than just a typical romance or a family drama; it is a delectable cinematic lesson on cooking and a celebration of love, life, and Pinoy food.
Aga Muhlach and Claudine Barretto took cooking lessons to prepare for their roles and look more convincing that they know their way around the kitchen.
* Movie stills and clip (c) Star Cinema.