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Under Parallel Skies

Opening Date
01 May 2024
PG13 Some Coarse Language
111 mins
Tagalog / English with English subtitles
Drama, Romance
Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo
Win Metawin, Janella Salvador
“Under Parallel Skies” follows the story of a Thai bachelor named Parin who travels to Hong Kong in search of his missing mother. He encounters a Filipino hotel receptionist named Iris who helps him navigate love, heartbreak, and healing in the foreign city.
By InCinemas  01 May 2024
A transcendent romantic drama on the complexities of life.
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Under Parallel Skies is a heart-warming romantic drama written and directed by award-winning Filipino director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo with Filipino actress Janella Salvador and Thai actor Win Metawin in a cross cultural love story set amidst the backdrop of the rich melting pot that is Hong Kong.
Parin (Metawin), a very wealthy young Thai businessman, heads to Hong Kong in search of his mother where he encounters Iris (Salvador) working at the hotel he is staying at. Along the way, Parin discovers the undeniable beauty of human connection and love through his interactions with Iris. 
The first part of the film revolves around Parin’s search for his mother as well as his initial encounter with Iris. It takes us to lesser-known places like Little Thailand and the fishing town of Tai O. Metawin effectively conveys Parin, the charmingly good looking spoiled rich boy from Thailand, constantly demanding attention from Iris, as he desperately seeks his “lost” mother. He comes across as a self-absorbed lost man-child, simultaneously wanting to fix his happy family back to where it was before and seeking comfort from his mother due to his misadventures in business. 
As the fate of the lead couple further intertwines, the journey for Parin and Iris is both hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measures as she is roped into helping Parin in his search for his mother and their relationship is most enjoyable when we see the confusion over language and culture play out. Hearing Parin and Iris converse and swear in English, Tagalog and Thai, as well as smatterings of Cantonese phrases and song lyrics, adds authenticity to their characters, making them feel relatable and funny as well as endearing.
Parin’s eventual meeting with his mother in Tai O, a small fishing village, is a defining life-sobering experience for Parin as he realises that wealth and luxury do not guarantee personal happiness. As the film progresses, Parin’s rich bad-boy behaviour slowly disappears and he improves as he opens up to having a friendship with Iris, a hardworking middle-class woman. Their friendship-turned-romantic relationship eventually leads the two to build a life together in Peng Chau, a laid-back coastal environment which heavily contrasts the urban and heavily capitalist environment of Hong Kong.  
Despite their hesitation and blunders along the way, the pair successfully open a small café named “Fai Lok” which means happiness in Cantonese, selling Thai milk tea and Adobo pork buns. Their pets are a beautiful pair of love birds aptly named Sawadee-kha and Mabuhay. Here, Director Bernardo cleverly takes us on a wonderfully understated journey through Parin and Iris’ love as we observe the evolving intimate moments of their relationship amidst the quiet tranquillity of Peng Chau Island which is sure to tug at the heartstrings of the audience.  
However, a sudden sad twist to their idyllic life arises when a hidden secret is revealed. Disappointment, confusion and heartbreak ensues for Parin and unexpected closure comes from Thea, the estranged sister of Iris. Personally, I wished we were given greater insight or reasons as to why the two sisters had a major falling out in relationship which would have added more depth to both characters and to provide a stronger emotional impact on the audience during the heart-wrenching scene when the two sisters finally reconcile.
Ultimately, my interpretation is that Thea brings Parin the necessary closure as to the choice Iris has made and to help Parin to renew his belief in hope, friendship, happiness as well as faith in new beginnings.
The film offers a fresh perspective on Hong Kong, choosing to showcase lesser-known spots that highlight the city's unique charm and beauty as the two leads help emphasise the cosmopolitan nature of its residents.  
While a cross-cultural love story is not new, I am drawn to the down-to-earth performances by Salvador as Iris, a resilient, hardworking Filipina who navigates her lonely life in Hong Kong contrasted with Metawin as the rich spoiled Thai boy who is broken inside but lives a relatively frictionless existence and their burgeoning relationship set in a familiar Asian setting which is sure to strike a chord with majority of the audience. As the success of the film hinges on the performances of both actors, Salvador and Metawin manage to draw the audience into their story with glowing onscreen chemistry.    
The dialogue is well-crafted, full of subtle metaphors and is deeply reflective and the film makes you question if happiness does exist and can love transcend cultural barriers and rise above hardship, tragedy and disappointment. They may not be in the same league of epic couples such as Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butlerin (Gone With The Wind) or Jack and Rose in the seminal romantic film, Titanic, but Iris and Parin from Under Parallel Skies are a breath of fresh air as a young star-crossed South-East Asian couple caught up in the complexities of life. You should watch the film and find your own answers.
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