Teach Me To Love (Eddie Romero, 2008)
Let me get it out. Eddie Romero's Teach Me To Love is not a very good film. Romero, who at the very ripe age of 82, attempted to resurrect his directing career with Faces of Love (2007), an amiable if not totally disposable love story about a widower (Christopher De Leon) and his former nurse and lover (Angel Aquino). Teach Me To Love, as a follow-up to Faces of Love, promises to be uncompromising, touching on the subject of teacher-student relationships, that might not be as readily acceptable as two former lovers reigniting a long-dead romantic relationship. However, the film confuses courage with trite charm, and eventually turns into an indescribable mishmash of incongruous elements that is quite frankly and most infuriatingly, near-unwatchable.
Nathan Lopez, who made the world swoon as a prepubescent gay boy in the grips of love beyond his years in Aureaus Solito's Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, 2005) and later on became one of the petty crooks in Brillante Mendoza's Tirador (Slingshot, 2007), is charming enough as Mark, the high school boy who falls in love with Connie (Maui Taylor), the new Physics teacher. There's an endearing facet to his unrefined and un-manufactured acting. When he strums his guitar and attempts to belt out a tune, complete with his raspy post-puberty baritone and an indifference to tonal deficiencies, you can sense a quiet sincerity that resonates very well.
Unfortunately and probably due to budgetary constraints (which prevents Romero from hiring a different actor or investing in make-up) Lopez is also forced to portray Mark, seven years after his romantic interlude with Connie. He alights from the bus, supposedly several years older with several years worth of maturity. However, save for some barely-there whiskers and a get-up that is supposedly there to make him look older, Lopez, with some of the adolescent charms intact despite the lapse of time, could not pull it off and the performance, from being genial and honest, ends up pathetic and contrived.
Taylor suffers from the same fate of making most of what essentially are haphazardly written characters. Her Connie is fueled by an invisible force, if fueled by anything at all. Her motivations are unclear or perhaps completely absent. Thus, when she offers her student a clean uniform or a few hours of free tutorials, there's an uncertainty if she is just inherently helpful or if she is pushed by some kind of narcissism and enjoys the fact that she is being adored by her students. When she desperately holds unto her relationship with her married lover (Tonton Gutierrez) despite the fact that she's being used indignantly, it is either out of sheer stupidity or by some unknown and unwritten ulterior motive. Thus, when he suddenly makes love with Mark, it comes off as a total and unexpected surprise. There are no real emotions, no logic, just a drastic sleight of hand that simply does not work.
Teach Me To Love is restricted by awful writing and unremarkable directing. The screenplay, co-written by Romero with Rica Arevalo, is both flavorless and careless, with dialogues that are burdened with an incoherent interplay of antiquated flourish and contemporary colloquialisms, and several narrative turns that push the film into the edges of bad taste with utter implausibility. Romero directs, to put it bluntly, like a man who is yet to discover the wonders of Viagra. Thus, as a romance between a lovely and charismatic teacher and her virginal student, Teach Me To Love is flaccid and as a cautionary tale of the repercussions of such romance, it is impotent.