Moments in a Stolen Dream (1977)

De Leon doesn’t hide his unabashedly dreamy approach to the coming-of-age romantic drama, as a college student becomes smitten by a woman, changing each other’s outlook in life. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,590

Dir. Mike De Leon
1977 | Philippines | Drama/Romance | 100 mins | 1.85:1 | Tagalog & English
PG13 (passed clean) for a scene of intimacy

Cast: Christopher de Leon, Hilda Koronel, Laurice Guillen
Plot: It’s the coming-of-age story of a young college student, Joey who has lost all sense of direction and meaning in life, waking up every morning to the same old day that went before; fruitless, senseless, lifeless. Then Joey meets Ana and she immediately sweeps him off his feet.
Source: ABS-CBN Archives

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Coming-of-Age; Purpose in Life; Mutual Affection
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Mainstream

Viewed: Screener (as part of Asian Film Archive’s Mike De Leon retrospective)
Spoilers: No

For more info on the Mike De Leon retrospective in Singapore:

Mike De Leon is best known for his allegorical, political-minded films such as Kisapmata (1981) and Batch ’81 (1982), so it is quite a breath of fresh air to watch something like Moments in a Stolen Dream which has decidedly more commercial aims. 

Describing this as a genre movie—a coming-of-age romantic drama—may be useful so that viewers’ expectations are aligned. 

Sweet and agreeable in tone, and featuring two inviting lead performances by Christopher De Leon (no relation to Mike) and Hilda Koronel (of Manila in the Claws of Light and Insiang fame), De Leon doesn’t hide his unabashedly dreamy approach to the genre. 

“You all seem so happy, so carefree.”

Joey is a college student with a passion for music but is stuck with majoring in biology.  He doesn’t look forward to waking up in the mornings until a chance encounter with Ana, with whom he becomes smitten. 

Viewed in today’s context, Moments in a Stolen Dream can feel lightly cloying, but that’s the charm of it.  It brings you back to an earlier time when love stories are uncomplicated and mutual affection is depicted with innocence and gentility. 

Music plays a key role here, not just through Joey’s passion (there are a number of scenes of him on the piano or guitar trying to work out a new song), but how De Leon uses it to evoke an unadorned sentimentality for a future that promises contentment. 

Moments in a Stolen Dream asks us to think about our outlook in life and how someone out there, in the most unexpected fashion, can spark a change. 

Grade: B+

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