Finding one that is definitely for keeps

Is there a season not fit for a romantic movie? With so many local movies about love entering Netflix’s library during our pandemic time, it is safe to say that there is always room for love, even during a global health crisis. The latest addition to that is the movie “My Amanda,” which premiered on the streaming platform last July 15, 2021.

Piolo Pascual and Alessandra De Rossi (Netflix)

Starring Piolo Pascual and Alessandra De Rossi, “My Amanda” centers its story on a friendship—a really close one—between Amanda a.k.a Fream, a love-obsessed girl, and TJ a.k.a Fuffy, someone whose uneasy talking about the L word. As their lives go on, one thing remains constant between the two and that’s their special bond, making characters in the film confuse them as a couple. A story many people could surely relate.

Much like a list of 1001 love letters, there are numerous elements in the film that bring smiles to the viewers. There is joy in Alessandra’s and Piolo’s performances. The characters having polar opposite demeanors add spice to the story, which when combined just like their nicknames, builds such sweet products.

Their fun adventures provide total escapist moments to the viewers. The weekend road trips, stargazing at night, getting drunk with booze and laughter, and sleeping by the shore under the moon bring memories of pre-pandemic summer. Something that now feels like a lifetime ago. This pandemic has robbed us things we never thought would matter to us that much. While the online world helps us build connections apart, nothing would compare to being actually present like in a wedding, to hear giggles without glitches, and to sob so ugly that your friends can help but to cry and laugh at the same time. Although watching Fream and Fuffy having those moments brings a glimmer in my eyes, I can’t help but also think of my gleeful days under the sun.

Still from ‘My Amanda’ (Netflix)

With those elements, Alessandra won my heart with her directorial debut film. But I believe it is pretty impossible to put out a great movie on your first time sitting in the director’s chair. While the film has a gist that is so universal that anyone can see a part of themselves in it, it is also a movie filled with many Filipino rom-com clichés. From the “I love you but I can’t” narrative to a devil in the form of a mother-in-a-law and other things I cannot mention here, things are becoming pretty predictable halfway through the film.

Don’t get me wrong. Clichés are part of the formula that makes an outstanding movie, even beyond the rom-com genre. But with Alessandra starring in romantic drama flicks like “Through Night and Day” and “Kita Kita,” I’m expecting her to turn these banal elements into something unique with her own mark. They could have been used to further sew in the scenes together to ultimately give a defining heart-wrenching feel in the latter part of the film. Heck, I would even love to see Pancho the hamster have a more character stretch and purpose.

But of all the platitudes presented in the film, the one that I love the most is the sense of “a soul mate not being a romantic partner but a friend.” I’ve heard it first among my friends and then from the mouth of Charlotte York in “Sex and the City,” and in the movie “Bridewars.” I’ll never get tired of hearing it. It is the best cliché in our lives. That’s where the film shines, and interestingly, that same sense is also happening behind the camera.

There is an undeniable bond between Piolo and Alessandra, something that is even stronger and special than a romantic connection. That kind of relationship is all you need whenever you’re jumping on a high sea of risks, which in Alessandra’s case was directing her first movie. That’s what we can learn from “My Amanda,” being the partner to hold someone’s hand when they badly need it, being the wake up call, and learning that sometimes the authentic love we are so hungry for can be found in the people who are around us for the longest time with no strings attached.

That’s why we need more directors like Alessandra to bring us the obvious that we can’t see and slap it to our faces. We may not find an over-pierced Piolo Pascual to build our rom-com fantasy with, at least we’ll have our best pals to create our dream road movie. And, honestly, that’s perfectly enough. Now, go on and find someone who can stand by you singing “Through the Fire.” Because if they do, they are definitely for keeps.

Source: Manila Bulletin (