On the surface, Let the Love Begin appears as a run of the mill romance movie. A pretty actress and a handsome actor comprise the love team in a typical rich girl-poor boy story. There are the staple accoutrements of the genre: comic sidekicks for friends, a scheming and not so charming prince pretender, a popular song for the movie’s title, and the perfunctory celebratory scene in the end complete with raindrops falling on the protagonists’ heads. However, despite this rather stereotypical mix of plot, characters, and events, the film succeeds in that it provides a rather refreshing take on what it means to be a “hero” or “savior” in this day and age.
Our hero in the story has a mission – to win the heart of the girl he loves. He tries to do this by helping her out with schoolwork, specifically by leaving finished homework under a school chair they share, she by day and he by night. The girl is enamored with her “savior,” yet his true identity remains obfuscated from her. He is hesitant to reveal himself and his intentions, so he takes his time until events overcome him: she leaves for the United States after graduation. A few years transpire and they meet again; she is now a corporate executive, while he as a janitor in her office. A friendship develops between them, yet she remains ignorant of the fact that the janitor used to be her “savior.” In a moment of desperation, she prays for her “savior” to save her again. And once again, our hero comes to save the day. Finally, our hero decides to divulge his identity and intentions to his beloved, but a prince charming pretender steals the glory. As our hero’s beloved finally recognizes that the pretender is not heroic, she realizes that she loves the janitor. She sees in the janitor the heart of a true hero, ultimately realizing that the janitor is her “savior.” With this realization, our hero’s identity and intentions are finally revealed.
Working within the confines of the romance genre, the film triumphs in the characterization of our young hero. He is a typical teen-ager with teen-age concerns and angst, coupled with the fact that he is poor and orphaned. Yet, he is intelligent enough not to allow his poverty to deprive him of a good education. What he lacks in material things, he makes up for in kindness in that he is always willing to help, albeit anonymously, his beloved. His heroism shines in his willingness to sacrifice his chance to study in a top university abroad for his grandmother. He is a diligent, hardworking young man who, at the same time, is a conscientious and intelligent student. His heroism is in his every day life—in his capacity to overcome the temptations and vagaries of youth, in his efforts to educate himself out of poverty. No, he may not be our typical knight in shining armor on a white steed; but his intelligence and kind heart shine through, making him a knight in an armor all his own.
He is not faster than a speeding bullet, nor is he more powerful than a locomotive and he cannot leap tall buildings in a single bound – he is as human as he can get but is an everyday hero, a savior, who fulfills his mission set at the beginning of the film. Let the Love Begin ends with what most of us yearn for in life – a happy ever after.
(Appeared in Young Critics Circle Film Desk’s Sine-Sipat: Recasting Roles and Images-Stars, Awards and Criticism for 2005, March 2006)