When nice is a vice
The teen love team of Janella Salvador and Elmo Magalona has had a bumpy ride since its inception.
At first, the palpitatingly photogenic pair looked “fatedly” meant for each other—but, after the initial impact had ebbed, the new love team’s basic limitation insisted on being admitted to, addressed and remedied: Janella’s portrayals were sufficiently dynamic, but Elmo was too nice and bland to sustain viewers’ attention and interest.
Subsequently, therefore, Janella was paired with other young comers. In due time, however, it must have been decided to give Elmo a second chance, so this season, Janella-Elmo TV-film projects have been whipped up for their tandem.
The first new showcase for their screen partnership was a recent “Maalaala Mo Kaya” episode, “Mangga.”
It was a significant step forward, because it was an obvious effort to present them in a more mature, older light, no longer just a frisky teen love team, and thus ready for deeper, young-adult parts and conflicts.
The showcase episode did start them off young ang giggly, but by the time it concluded its extended storytelling, Janella was a teacher, and Elmo was also older and more responsible.
Unfortunately, despite the episode’s best efforts, Elmo still couldn’t come up with a more solid and deeper portrayal in keeping with his character’s evolution from carefree youth to more responsible young adult.
His dialogue said he had, but he still came across as too light, shallow and well-meaning.
The problem wasn’t his alone, since the episode’s chosen storytelling thrust was too lightweight from the get-go.
Elmo’s character’s psychological limitation was made clear from the start: Even as kids, Janella’s character doted on him, so he thus took her for granted, and looked for “more challenging” girls to pursue.
She was therefore advised to act less smitten, so when their paths crossed again years later, he felt challenged enough to woo her.
But, after they had become a couple, his spoiled ways got the better of him, and he ended up with another girl, thus betraying Janella’s trust.
When she broke up with him, Elmo belatedly realized what he had so cavalierly given up, and his character was provided with “deeper” things to say and feel—but, despite his “more pained” thespic display, his portrayal remained shallow and limited.
So, as an upbeat portent of things to come for their now older tandem in 2018, and for their Valentine film, the “MMK” showcase failed to deliver.
Clearly, before their new starrers are shown, more rigorous measures have to be taken to make the actor “break through” as a real thespian—or his team-up with Janella has to be reconsidered again.
After all, her own acting career is affected by how their love team fares. As long as they do projects together, his limitations are hers, as well, so she has a stake in how effective his thespic transformation turns out to be.
The big “breakthrough” can still happen, if the right material is found to “force” Elmo to finally realize that “nice” is actually a “vice” in the acting biz, because viewers are interested not in being coddled and lulled to sleep, but in conflicted characters who learn valuable life lessons painfully—and share them with empathetic viewers.
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