100 Tula para kay Stella chronicles the time of Fidel’s life as he enters college and falls in love with a fellow freshman, Stella, up until he graduates. Fidel is a model student who suffers from stuttering, so he limits his sentences to three words. Stella is a budding musician who dreams of making it big in the music industry like Kitchie Nadal and Barbie Almalbis. While Fidel is timid, Stella is blunt and confident. They meet at a concert held for freshies when Stella comes to Fidel’s aid after he’d been bullied by an older student (who happens to be Stella’s boyfriend and bandmate as we later find out.)
Thus starts Fidel’s attraction to Stella. He starts writing poems for her and shows it to his Communications professor in the hopes that he gets it published. The poems are never published but he gathers enough inspiration to finally finish 100 poems for Stella right before he graduates.
Throughout the years, the two develop a close friendship. Stella however doesn’t always show up or step up as much as Fidel does in their relationship, choosing to ditch him for her ex-boyfriend who had contacts with a record producer.
Fidel moves to a university in Manila on his third year during which he loses touch with Stella. He however still continues to write the poems. During his stay in his new university he finds his place and gains confidence as a star performer for their university’s performing group. Stella on the other hand struggles with achieving her musician dreams. Things aren’t going the way she wants them to and she begins to go into a downward spiral.
Although there’s a huge comparison going around about this being similar to 500 Days of Summer here are a few differences I’d like to point out:
- Fidel’s love is unlike that of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character in 500 Days of Summer. He doesn’t feel entitled to Stella’s love. He doesn’t stop being friends with Stella just because she dates someone else, while hurt, he remains her friend. When Stella comes on to him while she’s emotionally charged and drunk, he doesn’t take advantage of it.
- Stella’s character has more explanation than that of Summer’s. Or at least we kind of get a background to the kind of person Stella is. In 500 Days of Summer we don’t figure out why Summer turns cold- not until she tells JGL that “it just wasn’t it.” Here, we see that Stella is the kind of person who latches on to people who she thinks can get her to places. We’re given a blurry background about her reputation in high school. We see how she uses two of her ex-boyfriends for a career in music. So we kind of understand why she’s trying not to do the same to someone she feels a genuine love for (aka Fidel).
- The Idea of Love. Maybe we’ve all been there, falling in love with someone and placing them on a pedestal. However, the reality of them fall short. I’m not sure if I wasn’t paying closer attention but the film wasn’t able to differentiate if Fidel saw through Stella’s cracks but chose to love her anyway or if he was still holding on to his ideal of Stella, the beautiful girl who chose him as her friend. What do you think?
- Reel vs. Real. Stella had an image of solidity, she was a strong, punk-ass girl who took no shit from anyone. But deep inside she was insecure and immature, she held on to other people who she thought could also make her look good. I feel like there was also a sense of competition when she saw Fidel getting opportunities for himself without having to latch on to people.
- Confidence and Self-Development. Though he loved Stella, Fidel still chose to pursue his education outside their province, leaving the girl he loves behind. He went out of his comfort zone and started making friends and gaining confidence without having to rely on Stella to stop the bullies for him. While Fidel may have still been stuck on Stella emotionally, and the things he did may have been because of her, it’s good to see that he uses her as fuel for his own development. I mean, when I see my crush getting cozy with another girl, it drives me to the gym!
- While I understand what the film was trying to convey I wished we saw more fleshed out characters.
- The Von-Stella thing was a little too abrupt, I wish they had more moments together to make Stella’s choice more solid. (The “wag kang umalis” part also got a bit too creepy.)
- Stella’s downward spiral was more of a montage and it didn’t seem to build up as much as you’d expect it to, emotionally. So I wish they also did something about that, not sure what/how.
- I enjoyed the director’s other work, Ang Taba ko Kasi which is the only other movie I saw but really appreciated. I wanted to make a film like it. But I wish he didn’t react as badly over constructive criticism. We all work hard for our films, and we labor in the process but unfortunately the audience only sees the product. Our film, no matter how personal to us, will always be subject to the audience’s perspective unless we keep our creations to ourselves. When it’s out there, it’s not just ours anymore. That’s something we don’t need to learn from art school, it’s something an artist should be very well aware of. I admit I feel bad over criticism but to tweet and respond in anger, I shan’t. Not unless things are below the belt.
- I honestly wish that after each constructive criticism we can all go back to our films and redo it with all the revisions but it’s already out there and we can only take these lessons and apply them onto our next films. Or do a reshoot and a re-edit? I wish!
My little sister asked me if she should watch it and I told her to do so. It’s not bad and that’s why people are expressing their wish lists because they know it can be better than good.
Here are some reviews that best explains my concerns/reactions + all that discussion on the film’s mood:
‘100 Tula Para Kay Stella’ Movie Review: A Nostalgic Ride Back To The Days of Rock Bands & Heartbreaks
P.S Who’s the guy that plays Hunter? Ang cute niya! Didn’t catch the credit roll! Bahahaha