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There’s More To That “Never Not Love You” Poster Than That Blissful Image Of JaDine In Love

A good movie poster should at least give you a whiff of the film it is selling. In the case of the new JaDine romantic drama Never Not Love You, the poster seduces with the cool scent of a blissful young romance with a base note of dark reality.

It’s a compelling advertisement for the new Antoinette Jadaone film, if only for its refreshing, maybe even daring, use of a film still, subdued colors, and classic bold typeface—instead of the usual studio-shot image splashed with a circus-bright palette and animated title text. The movie, after all, is being harped to be a James Reid and Nadine Lustre flick without the usual hysterics of a family conflict, a third party, or someone dying, the most “real” output from the loveteam some fans like to call #teamreal. As one early review puts it, the romance in this film “elegantly avoids sparks and spectacle.”   

But there is spark in the poster to be sure, thanks to graphic designer Karl Castro. The image of a beaming Reid (who incidentally plays a graphic designer in the story) and Lustre is naturally the movie ad’s piece de resistance, their faces caressed by the reflection of a neon-soaked Makati evening.

The poster went through 30 studies. “My first impulse was [to give it] a grittier look,” says Castro. “The script was inspired by ‘real’ relationship issues and promised to explore a less rosy view on love, so I heightened texture to show a different, rather deglamorized JaDine.” But then someone joked the image looked too gritty (read: the couple looked dirty and oily). “Papunta na raw sa ‘Pamilya Ordinaryo’” was how it was put, referencing the 2016 indie about a homeless teenage couple-with-kid hustling in the grimy corners of Manila. Too far out for the perennially clean-cut Reid and glamour girl Lustre.  

So it was back to the drawing board for Castro. This time, he made studies emphasizing the literary side of filmmaking, “featuring lines from the screenplay in lieu of a tagline,” the designer wrote on a Facebook post. The idea was to engage the spectator through reading, “and to contrast the sweet lines with the bittersweet image. I also played with color toning as story telling: a warm-to-cool gradient to suggest the loss of warmth, and bright red for youthful ardor.”

Eventually, Castro and Jadaone ended up with the more generally pleasing choice. Or as Castro describes it, “a less troubled, more conventionally ‘kilig’ image” where “tension is expressed through the double-reading title treatment,”— meaning you can read the title as Never Not Love You, or read it as Never Love, Not You—to suggest a relationship on the rocks.


The Never Not Love You Poster went through 30 studies. Some were too gritty, while others played a lot on typeface. 


There is also that more pronounced tagline: “Ang pag-ibig ay masarap, madali, forever, bullshit.” The first three descriptives appear to have been crossed out, leaving a message that is possibly the most cynical to ever come out of a JaDine vehicle. 


The final poster for Never Not Love you shows a blissfully happy image of Reid and Lustre contrasted by dark tones of a city by night.


Castro is a sought after graphic designer. He was art director of the magazine Vault and was briefly with Rogue. He’s designed the books of screenwriter Ricky Lee and the playwright Floy Quintos, among others. Never Not Love You is not his first jab at a movie ad. He did the posters for the indie films Endo, Boses, Zombadings, Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan, Ilo ilo, and the Jadaone films Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay and the phenomenal CinemaOne Originals hit, That Thing Called Tadhana.


The first collab between Castro and Jadaone had two options: one where Cuntapay is doing a Mona Lisa smile, the other shows the star echoing The Scream.


Using a still from the film, Castro hinged on the image of two people mimicking each other's movements.


Jadaone and Castro have known each other since college. She’s one batch ahead of him in UP Film and was an admirer of The Philippine Collegian’s design. Castro was then EIC of the university paper. Their first collaboration was the poster for the mock docu Lilia Cuntapay where the beloved horror film actress finds herself as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (the title text employed Ms Cuntapay’s personal handwriting). Castro is one of the guys the director sometimes consults for scripts, like for the 2017 hit Love You To The Stars and Back. Some of JM de Guzman’s lines in the Bencab Museum scene in Tadhana were Castro’s replies to Jadaone’s questions via SMS. In Never Not Love You, Castro is credited as “creative consultant.”

As with the case of their current collab, Tadhana’s poster used a still from the movie itself, mostly because of time constraints and perhaps to keep to the production’s modest budget. “There were limited stills to choose from, and I selected this image which focuses on kilig, the thrill of the first spark,” Castro writes in his website about the actors Angelica Panganiban and De Guzman echoing each other’s pose in the poster image. “Behavioral observations show that when a person is interested in another, he or she subconsciously mirrors the body language of the other.” Who knew there could be so much going on behind a movie ad?


Castro is a graphic designer who has designed books for Ricky Lee and Floy Quintos, and art directed magazines


If indeed the most a poster could aspire for is give a whiff of the movie it is selling, the scent of Tadhana’s poster traveled quite the distance, spawning a thousand memes where fans invariably cloned the poses of the movie’s leads. If the early positive feedback to Never Not Love You and its poster is to go by—not to mention the sizeable following of its lead stars—Castro and Jadaone may have another poster in their hands that smells like a hit.