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Meet Me In St. Gallen

Meet Me in St Gallen is set in the span of three days, but in varying years. The main characters, Jesse and Celeste meet in a coffee shop, and their conversation started when Celeste points out that they have the same names as the characters in the movie ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’. The film has nothing to do with the Andy Samberg/Rashida Jones film, but rather it focused on the connection of two people as they stumbled on in life and love.

At first glance, the film holds a resemblance to Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy. The resemblance ends at the 24 hour time period, and the film immediately attaches itself on the expectations of love and life. When they first met, Jesse was a budding singer who was at a crossroad between staying with his band and becoming a doctor. Celeste was a graphic designer who felt constrained and limited at her current job. The film then stresses the significance of a conversation between two people, with no strings attached. The night turns out to be magical for both, and in order not to sully that moment, Celeste steps back and both go on their separate ways, until they cross paths again.

Every time the pair meets, the encounter wasn't the same. Yes, they still had strong feelings for each other, but both are in a different stage of their lives. While there was more significance in their second meeting, everything went down in their third meeting. I think the film wanted to show the depth and growth of the characters in terms of their expectations on love, but it didn’t really play that way. Despite the fantastic performances by the two leads, there was a lack of conviction and substance in the script that made them grow. It ended up playing as a ‘will they or won’t they’ kind of film.

The performances were good though. Carlo Aquino and Bela Padilla had enough chemistry to carry this film, with their separation getting harder and harder to witness. I did wish that the film adapted to the timeline it set itself. One would know the year it was set based on the phone the characters were using - it’s a small thing, but when the camera pans into your phone, and it’s way ahead of the timeline, it’s a glaring detail.

It’s not a flawless film, but the performances and direction were strong enough to hold it together. I found myself going back to the concept of great love, and how circumstance can make a decision for someone.

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