Monday, December 29, 2014

English Only, Please,_Please

Julian (Derek Ramsay) just could not get over his ex. He regularly stalks her on Facebook and even follows her all the way back to Manila. His obsession results in a scathing letter which he wants to be translated to Filipino, so he could say it straight to her face as some sort of closure for their failed relationship. Hence, he hires a personal tutor to get it done. Tere (Jennylyn Mercado) eagerly obliges, what with the USD1000 price tag for the personal lessons. She uses the amount to support her family in Bulacan, as well as to buy her ex a new iPad. She is a hopeless martyr and she knows it, but that's just how she is. Sick and tired of their inability to move on, both teacher and student decide to help each other forget their respective breakups, and perhaps develop something more than friendship for the two of them.

This review is heavily biased because it is coming from a language enthusiast. Suffice it to say that Tagalog is not really that popular in the foreign language learning circuit, and seeing this film somehow attempt to introduce our language to any foreigner who might accidentally watch it is truly appreciated. Aside from being a rom-com, the movie is also a celebration of our vernacular's vibrant nature. The film is peppered with Tagalog slang given simple explanations in the form of a dictionary entry. Come to think of it, this would actually be a good material for your foreigner friends who are either just curious or really interested to learn Tagalog. To add, around half of the dialogues are delivered in English.

That both actors took home the major acting awards no longer comes as a surprise given the lack of serious competition, but this does not mean that their victory is not deserved; in fact, quite the contrary.

Mercado is a natural and has always been dependable when it comes to both drama and comedy. Her tears are not forced; her comic timing is good enough; and she does not go overboard. It is not without reason that she is the only one left in her batch with a stable career. Her performance here explains why. Perhaps a few indie projects here and there would also help in honing her skills even more.

This is one of Ramsay's better performances to date, maybe because once in his life he was also a Julian. If you have been living under a rock and have no idea who he is, then you would have no difficulties believing that he has indeed just landed on Philippine soil for the very first time. The thing is, we have already seen him in numerous TV and movie projects speaking straight Tagalog. Had they given the role to someone like Sam Milby, for example, then the suspension of disbelief would probably be easier given how that guy still has problems with his pronunciation until now. But then again, this is just a personal opinion. There is NOTHING wrong with Ramsay's acting in this movie. In fact, improvements are evident, and he is even able to utilize his eyes to convey emotions, something he was not that good at before.

This movie is predictable alright, but to its defense, most romantic comedies are. Output from this particular genre tends to be the same old shit year after year. In the end, it is really the presentation that matters most, and this film is just enjoyable to watch. The jokes are repetitive but do not lose relevance, maybe because you have also been cracking them for a long time now; EDSA traffic as the universal excuse for tardiness, for instance.

Delivery is also key to the effective use of comedy in this film. In effect, you see the actors as if they were someone you knew in real life who would actually say such things, as opposed to actors who have just been tasked by some random director to read out those lines. If you want to see a decent comedy in this year's MMFF lineup that would really make you laugh without having to tickle yourself, this is the movie you are looking for.

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