Monday, July 25, 2016

"Imagine You & Me": a movie review

"Imagine You & Me" (IYAM) is a blockbuster romantic comedy that was masterfully directed by Mike Tuviera for APT Productions. The stars are the hottest love team in the Philippines, Alden Richards as Andrew and Maine Mendoza as Gara. Mr. Tuviera presented a well-crafted movie as a gift that should delight not only their fans, but all those who appreciate a good film.

IYAM is a light-hearted movie with surprising depth, heart-tugging scenes, and enough twists and turns to the story. The movie unfolds like pieces in a puzzle, symbolic of the broken gemstone glued up to make it whole again. It is a tribute to overseas foreign workers (OFWs) who travel to other countries to provide for their families, who bond with their friends through karaoke and through shared confidences about life and love.

The supporting cast is par excellence. Cacai Bautista and Cai Cortez are hilarious as Gara’s roommates. “Ang Tataa?” still rings in my ears. Jasmine Curtis-Smith delivers an understated but poignant performance as a leukemia-stricken patient. I am most impressed with Irma Adlawan’s touching portrayal of the stepmom who longed to heal the rift between her and Andrew. She was willing to wait for the right time, to connect with the son of her beloved spouse. This is one special moment, an emotional breakthrough for these two characters.

Alden Richards is definitely one of the finest actors of his generation. His angst and sensitivity is riveting to watch. Alden's performance as a broken-hearted medical student is layered and nuanced, as he thaws out of his moods and begins to appreciate the efforts of those who love him. This line- “Please don’t break my heart like this. Binuo mo na ako (You already made me whole)” made me tear up (okay, I sobbed). In his future films, I would love for him to tackle more mature roles that will showcase his acting prowess that will sustain him for years to come.

Maine Mendoza has an effervescent presence that lights up the screen. Her Joie de vivre manifested in how she embraces her life as an OFW with odd jobs. Maine is adorable and likeable which merited comparison to Jennifer Aniston. I see her as without equal. For how could a dubsmash queen and a self-confessed introvert capture Alden’s heart and the whole AlDub nation? She is a natural comedienne who will probably surprise us once again. She will captivate us with more of her previously hidden talents. Didn’t she already prove that she is a talented writer and singer?

The breathtaking scenery of Como, Italy is the other star of the movie. The sweeping green hills and picturesque villas dotted around the lake are impressive, as well as the quaint town square with its charming cafes and cobblestone streets. Shayne Sarte deserves a standing ovation for the beautiful cinematography. It is serendipitous that the producer, Mr. Antonio Tuviera, fell in love with the place about five years ago and finally achieved his dream of making the movie with the phenomenal AlDub team . Maine and Alden unknowingly met in a teen show, only to accidentally start a split-screen romance in Eat Bulaga five years later. The undeniable chemistry and the public’s reaction to it is unprecedented and will not ever be replicated again. The hands of destiny are at work here.

So, come and see the movie. I have seen it twice, because I needed to fully absorb the kilig moments, especially that unmentionable scene at the end in Verona, Italy. That long 360-degree shot that took seven takes to perfect (and however many off-cam practice sessions). As Andrew said, there is no English translation for “kilig”. This tagalog word earned its way to the Oxford dictionary because of AlDub and in this movie, AlDub certainly did not disappoint. The “kilig” factor was “tagos sa bone marrow”, indeed.

Here's the fangirl squealing, EEEEEEEEEEE!!!! The lovelock says it all. AlDub is real.

Team Abroad: Empire Columbia Park Cinema Theater in North Bergen, New Jersey