‘Sleeper’ victory for light-hearted rom-com
There was a big to-do last week over the adjudged winners in the 2014 MMFF, especially the “sleeper” victory of “English Only, Please” over “Bonifacio.” So, we decided to view “English” to see if it really was the more “awardable” movie.
—Well, the film may be a much smaller production than “Bonifacio,” but it held together better and was more of an “organic” (integral) success—so, yes, it was the better-made production.
“Bonifacio” may have been the more “significant” movie, but the proof of the film treat is in the watching, so dissers—can please keep a lid on!
What makes “English Only, Please” a relative viewing pleasure is the “modesty” of its intentions—and its consequent ability to fulfill them.
It’s neither epic nor controversial, but it’s a lighthearted, winsome and winning dramatization of “issues” related to Filipinos, Fil-Ams, and the things that bind and separate now so-called “global” Filipinos.
Dan Villegas’ fun romantic flick is about a streetwise but “foolish in love” Filipina, played by Jennylyn Mercado, who’s hired by Fil-Am Derek Ramsay to help him get back at the “perfect” girlfriend who dumped him sometime back.
No surprises here: The business relationship eventually becomes personal, and then romantic, as Jennylyn helps her “boss” get over his bias against “local” over “stateside,” and discover the Filipino in him.
Since we’re against colonial mentality, this movie is right up our alley, so we hope that it eventually does well at the tills, so other productions like it can be made, for our communal edification.
On the other hand, the film is sometimes too small, even feeling like a TV sitcom, with a surfeit of verbal exchanges mostly between the two leads.
They may be very easy on the eyes, but there’s got to be more to a moviegoer’s life than just listening to two people shooting the breeze till kingdom come. Please remember that this is supposed to be a motion picture—so, cut down on the talkies—and up the action.
More: While Jennylyn does her best work to date here, Derek is less of a revelation, and his lead portrayal lacks bite and edge. Yes, it’s lots better than his past efforts, but its development still falls short of the convincing character arc that we look for and find in truly “awardable” performances.
A hopefully instructive detour: The film also includes some droll “cameo” portrayals by nonstars, and they’re so deftly acted that they sometimes (quite unintentionally, we’re sure) threaten to upstage the leads’ performances.
If Derek had been as focused and committed as these aggressive hopefuls, his portrayal would have really—hit the spot!