Sunday, January 4, 2015

Movie Review: English Only, Please

English Only, Please
Director: Dan Villegas
Story and Screenplay: Dan Villegas
Antoinette Jafaone and Anjeli Pessumal

Yes. I jumped on the bandwagon and I was not disappointed at all.

What worked

1. Derek Ramsay and Jennylyn Mercado. It was my first time to see a movie starred by these two actors. I confess, I had no idea how good an actor Jennylyn Mercado is. In the movie, she plays a simple girl but her presence screams star appeal. She lights up the screen like a 24 karat diamond ring. No wonder she's the one chosen as the Starstruck grand winner.

Her portrayal of Tere Madlansacay is very accessible. Tere is your everyday girl and Mercado essayed the role effortlessly. She's your BFF and go-to-girl. She's the loyal and hardworking daughter. She gives, so much, until it hurts.  In the end, she looks at herself and decides she has not given enough. This is her only flaw and one that can be easily forgiven, if not, tolerated at least. I find myself rooting for her to end up with that nice Fil-Am guy, Julian Parker.

Derek Ramsay as Julian Parker, the brooding, angry, broken hearted Fil-Am who went out on a limb to avenge his pride is just WOW. For once, Ramasay's character is not bent on seducing a vulnerable woman. His quiet and tempered portrayal of a man who found love in a hopeless place is way sexier. Like Tere, his only fault is to fall in love and have his heart broken all over again. So I wish the same thing for Julian: to find the girl he deserves.

Since this is a romantic comedy, they did find each other and a chance at happily ever after. Together, Derek and Jennylyn make a formidable couple. So charming is their chemistry that I am praying for a sequel.

EOP FP Page:
2. The script. I like the slow moments in the movie. Good rom-coms have this element. It allows the viewer to listen to conversations and to look at the non-verbal language that transpire between characters. Luckily, the casting director picked the right actors because, Ramsay and Mercado are opposites who are so good to look at. You put two different characters together and you start to understand what the message of the movie is all about. Language is never a barrier between people who truly love each other. Things may be lost in translation, but it is in speaking the truth from the depths of the heart that we find clarity and freedom. Plus, there is enough external and internal tension between the two that kept me through the finish line. That ending where Julian and Tere jumped into the bus leaving for Manila holds a lot of promise for a part two. How much will they give and go for love? What challenges and conflicts will they face in the next stage of their relationship?

Sadly, one of the producers who happen to be a former co-teacher and FB friend confirmed there won't be any sequel.

3. Love and Language. I enjoyed the movie's play on language and how, in some way, it was like an invisible character that brought Julian and Tere together. The scriptwriters are smart in putting in that vocabulary spiels in between scenes. It was humorous and done with enough wit. No crying spells and dramatics. Humor will always save the day. Just when Cai Cortez was about to cry over Jennilyn's lot, she sucks in juice from her balut and with it is an acceptance of things as they are.

The many forms and ways of loving were also depicted with care and humor. Those numerous "Motmot" scenes, single motherhood, family dynamics are springboard conversations about love, sex and relationships that can be taken up with among young people of today.

What did not work

I just wish there were more scenes that showed Derek Ramsay immersing and appreciating the Filipino culture to fully justify his line: Fil-Am ako (or was it laki ako sa US), pero pusong Filipino.

Overall, English Only, Please is a well thought out film. Its actors were well chosen too. At last, here is a movie in this year's Metro Manila Filmfest that doesn't dumb down its paying audience. Thank you to its producers, scriptwriters and director for empowering us to think, to feel and to laugh with you!

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