Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Girl in the Orange Dress


After a night of drunken stupor, Anna Villegas (Jessy Mendiola) wakes up in a hotel room in bed next to a naked man she does not know. Tiptoeing to find her way out, she fails to escape. Being told that she won’t be able to get out of the hotel, she recognizes the guy as Asian superstar Rye del Rosario (Jericho Rosales). Filling her in about what really happened, he informs her that the media has seen him check into that hotel with a mysterious girl in an orange dress, which has resulted in a media frenzy. After breakfast, they hatch different plans to sneak her out of the hotel by borrowing clothes from other guests, but the paparazzi prove to be hungry for a scoop and are always one step ahead. Weighing their options, they chat some more about their lives and realize that they might have something in common after all.

Every year the Metro Manila Film Fest always has a romantic comedy in the line-up. This is not necessarily a bad thing. While this festival targets families, there is still that couple demographic that will be on the lookout for something light and relatable. The problem is that the mainstream churns out romantic comedies ad nauseam. The trick here is to stand out. The Girl in the Orange Dress does that not through its tired storyline of a celebrity falling for a nobody, but rather on its attempt on non-linear storytelling.

Well, it’s not totally non-linear, but the gaps in memory brought about by immoderate consumption of alcohol allows the writer to play around with concealed details that result in little revelations that fuel the plot development. It also plays a trick on the audience by putting you in Anna’s shoes, discovering the truth behind what really happened that night through her perspective. We’ve all been there. We’re not saying that hangovers are fun, but we can definitely relate to the incoherence and embarrassment.

The film effectively captures the essence of fangirl culture with Ria Atayde being so arguably good at her role because her character is just so fucking annoying. Sorry to be blunt but there really is no better way to say that. Every time she appears onscreen you just want to hit her with a foldable chair on the face, which is probably the exact same sentiment the public feels towards prepubescent tweens who dedicate their entire lives to the teen idols that they worship. At least this distracts a bit from the generic storyline.

As for Rosales, he must have some vampire lineage because he still looks almost the same as he did back in his breakthrough role in Pangako Sa Yo. He can still headline a movie despite almost pushing 40 and the influx of younger and more bankable leading men as of late. Mendiola, on the other hand, is indeed a stunner in that orange dress. Why she has a legion of haters is anybody’s guess, but perhaps it has something to do with her failure to evolve through the years? She is pretty alright, but seemingly stuck forever in the teenybopper zone. Try the indie scene for new challenges, maybe?

Again, we have nothing against romantic comedies, but at least try to break the mold. In that regard, The Girl in the Orange Dress succeeds. While it does not offer anything groundbreaking, it does give you another option that would not entail anything heavy or inherently slapstick and stupid. In the end it is still worth the price of admission but does not pack that much of a punch. Hopefully, romantic comedies would continue to evolve; their writers thinking more out of the box.

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