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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015

entry arrow3:49 PM | Film #1: Dan Villegas' English Only, Please (2014)

I was prepared to be disappointed with Dan Villegas' English Only, Please (2014), the Metro Manila Film Festival sleeper that is fast becoming a word-of-mouth hit. Its trailer did not exactly pique my interest, but the reviews it was slowly garnering were unusually good and particularly convincing in their praises. It did prove to be imperfect, but the flaws -- matters of nitpicking -- seemed forgivable compared to how satisfying it finally proved to be, and how smart the narrative choices it made. What carries the film are two crucial things: [1] the screenplay by Villegas and Antoinette Jadaone, which borrows Nora Ephron's deft handling of the romantic comedy genre in Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally... (1989) by staying true to its tropes but also gloriously transcending it, and [2] the easy and believable chemistry between its stars Derek Ramsay and Jennylyn Mercado, whose characters could have been easily-digested cardboard cutouts, but here seemed truly rooted in the organic requirements of their roles. It's an acting and writing vehicle more than a directing one, but given that this is Mr. Villegas' first feature film effort, it is quite commendable, and perhaps amounts to signalling the arrival of a fresh new voice in Philippine cinema. Perhaps with this film and Ms. Jadaone's other 2014 efforts -- Relax, It's Only Pag-ibig and That Thing Called Tadhana -- we're finally getting the commercial rom com filmmaking that deserves our brain cells.

#NotAReview #Cinema2015Project

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