LUCK and love don’t mix. You can’t have both at the same time.
That’s the premise around which Luck at First Sight revolves. And the situations it creates keep this rom-com bouncing merrily along.
Jericho Rosales is Joma, a compulsive gambler who’s on a particularly nasty losing streak. He is on the run from his debtors and is desperately looking for a lucky charm to reverse his fortunes.
He consults some sort of a soothsayer who sells him a cat’s eye which she guarantees will lead him to his “life charm,” someone who will act as a human magnet for good luck.
There is a caveat: Joma must not fall in love with his life charm. The moment he does, the lucky streak ends abruptly.
It’s not long before the cat’s eye leads Joma to Diane (Bela Padilla), who is struggling to keep her small pharmacy from closing. Her business provides the money for the medicines for her ailing dad.
Diane turns out to be the life charm Joma has been looking for, but it takes a lot of cajoling before she assumes the role. They agree to raise just enough winnings for Joma to pay off his debts and for Diane to finance her father’s kidney transplant, and then they quit gambling.
Of course that’s easier said than done. The partnership starts off on a high note. Joma makes a killing at the casino tables and the race track. With Diane by his side, he simply can’t lose.
As the business partners revel in their success they become more comfortable with each other. Diane discovers that when he works on it, Joma can be a likeable, even lovable, guy. Joma, on the other hand, is impressed by Diane’s strong devotion to her family.
It doesn’t take long before the business partnership turns into a romantic liaison. And just like that, the charm switches off. Joma and Diane begin to lose with every throw of the dice. The compulsive gambler in Joma reasserts itself and he places bigger and bigger bets to recoup their losses. Diane tries to stop him but Joma is out of control. Soon all their winnings are gone.
How do Joma and Diane get out of the hole they’ve fallen into?
At this critical junction Luck at First Sight could have lapsed into another rom-com that is primed for box-office success but whose story is either overly candy-coated or too fluffy to ignite any creative spark. Fortunately, Director Dan Villegas has a knack for rom-coms (That Thing Called Tadhana, Walang Forever, English Only Please, to name a few) that defy the mold and explore new approaches. It is in this direction that he steers Luck at First Sight.
The narrative is straightforward. The script of Ays de Guzman avoids convoluted subplots that tend to constrict the flow of the main story. We know where the film’s headed; it’s getting there that makes it enjoyable.
I believe Jericho’s performance in Walang Forever was his most challenging for a rom-com. His Joma in Luck at First Sight does not have the same depth; still it draws the empathy for a character who is struggling to change for the better for the woman he loves.
Coming off her impressive performance in Camp Sawi, Bela is charmingly engaging as the vulnerable Diane.
Cholo Barretto as Joma’s buddy and Kim Molina as Diane’s cousin serve up some of the funniest moments in the movie.
Dan Villegas keeps his winning streak with Luck at First Sight.