'A Journey' review: A therapeutic trip to Tasmania 2
Paolo Contis, Kaye Abad and Patrick Garcia star in 'A Journey.' Netflix Philippines

'A Journey' review: A therapeutic trip to Tasmania

Abad, Contis and Garcia were all graduates of the '90s teen series 'Tabing Ilog' and that would explain their easy natural chemistry with each other that made this film work perfectly.
Fred Hawson | Apr 17 2024

Shane (Kaye Abad), Bryan (Paolo Contis) and Kristoff (Patrick Garcia) had been the best of friends since their childhood. Kristoff became a famous film matinee idol and a playboy bachelor. Shane married Bryan and the two were very happy together, until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After an arduous treatment regiment, she eventually recovered, but this toxic and stressful experience had caused them to be childless. 

Five years later, it was discovered that the cancer had metastasized to her lung. Afraid to undergo the same ordeal, she decided that she did not want to undergo chemotherapy all over again. Instead, she listed down a number of things she wanted to do with the remaining time in her life, calling it her "Magic List." While sad that Shane seemed to have surrendered, Bryan and Kristoff go all the way to help her check each item off her bucket list.

The pacing of director RC delos Reyes was quite fast in the first act, and kept the atmosphere light despite the serious topic. Within the first 10 minutes of the film, Shane was seen coughing blood out, clearly indicating a seriously ill protagonist. At this point, I dreaded that this would just go the usual lugubrious of most dramas about terminal illness. However, screenwriter Onay Sales-Camero sprung several surprises on us along the way. 

By the 30-minute mark, the three friends were already driving along the streets of Tasmania on their healing road trip. It was in this exotic island that the film took its time to let the drama simmer and overflow. It was delightful to see a Tasmanian devil, baby penguins, and a heartwarming surprise comeback by Jimmy Santos (as Shane's estranged father Mr. T). That beautiful scene set inside the church was the melodramatic highlight of the whole film.  

Abad, Contis and Garcia were all graduates of the '90s teen series "Tabing Ilog" and that would explain their easy natural chemistry with each other that made this film work perfectly. Abad has not been onscreen for five years already, but she has not lost her touch for drama. Contis was able to show off the range of his talents in playing the distraught husband Bryan. As Kristoff (or "Tupe"), Garcia was still his old charming self with his easy smile.

To further remind us of this "Tabing Ilog" connection, there were actually scenes of the three hanging around and having fun on a riverside dock. There was a surprise cameo of another "Tabing Ilog" actress in the epilogue. The song playing over the closing credits was the theme of "Tabing Ilog" originally written and sung by Barbie Almalbis as Barbie's Cradle, but this version is a cover by Vanessa Garcia.  

This film talks about cancer and who decides on what to do about it -- patient or family? In the midst of all the tearful declarations of love, there were uncomfortable statements made about selfishness. Is a patient selfish for choosing not to undergo any treatment? Is a significant other selfish for wanting the patient to undergo the painful surgery, radiation and chemo that he does not like? Surely, these are difficult decisions no one wants to have to make.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."