Monday, July 19, 2021

My Amanda


Fuffy (Piolo Pascual) and Fream (Alessandra de Rossi) have been friends for so long that her grandmother is forever wondering how they didn’t manage to end up together. Better off as friends, the pair live their love lives independently from one another: him, bouncing from girlfriend to girlfriend; her, taking a chance on a long-time commitment by attempting to settle down. Even so, their closeness as friends is unparalleled and they prove to be stronger together as they babysit one another after every heartache. Failing miserably in their respective relationships, they always tend to think out loud whether they are actually meant for one another. She is very vocal and open about it, always teasing him about what-ifs and what could be. He is quite aloof but deep inside he knows he is also affected. Should platonic friendships remain as such or is there anything to gain in progressing to being more than friends?

So, Amanda got Thanos’d? Is this part of the MCU? Why isn’t this on Disney+? My Amanda is okay as a directorial debut for Alessandra de Rossi. There are aspects where she can obviously still improve such as exposition, but decent effort overall. Perhaps the only questionable decision is why go for an anti-romcom as a first film project. It’s easier to film narratives like this that are rich in dialogues as far as logistics is concerned, but it will always tend to get a bit boring if you don’t find the right rhythm from the get-go.

The twist doesn’t come as a big shock, maybe because there are enough hints as to where the storyline is headed anyway, at least in one particular scene. The last-minute deflection is clever as it is able to provide a momentary red herring to provoke a surprised reaction once the truth is finally revealed. Unexpected as it might seem, it still feels a bit calculated, or perhaps necessary is the right term? Without it, the story would have lost its impact and the movie would have ended up as just another talkie. One can’t really point a finger to what might be missing, but the conclusion could have used some more oomph.

What’s admirable about My Amanda is how it shines a light on platonic relationships. As one of the main characters would tell you, a guy and a girl could simply be just friends. That’s true to some extent, but cinema has always promoted this anti-romcom genre by insinuating that two heterosexual friends from the opposite sex cannot stay friends. Sexual tension is always added, perhaps to add some much-needed conflicts to the storyline. Otherwise, you just end up with a boring friendship flick.

This movie appears to be staying true to that formula, what with the awkward voice-overs of Pascual’s character. When you find out who he is actually alluding to towards the end, everything starts to make sense. But yeah, the narration does not always fit seamlessly in the plot. There are parts where it seems contrived and just comes across as lazy writing, especially when Pascual is so good as far as non-verbal acting is concerned. We can take a hint, but as already mentioned, it was merely a plot device utilized to pave the way for the aforementioned twist.

Acting-wise, it is fun to watch de Rossi and Pascual onscreen together thanks to their palpable chemistry as BFFs. Their banter is so natural that at times you just feel as though they are not acting anymore. Perhaps it’s also based on how the characters are written. Fream is loud and vocal while Fuffy is chill and straightforward. However, it is de Rossi who does more heavy lifting. It’s amazing how she can shift from comedy to drama and stay in character but make you feel the gravity of her emotions anyway. This is not the best entry in her filmography as an actress but as a director, one has to start somewhere, and this isn't a bad attempt.

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