Entertainment | Pablo A. Tariman:

AUSPICIOUS DEBUT FOR ALESSANDRA DE ROSSI AS DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER

Piolo Pascual and Alessandra de Rossi in a wedding scene from My Amanda. (Spring Films)

Everything about My Amanda is spontaneous.

It is light but not frivolous. It is endearing but not in the way rom-com romances are written and marketed.

In some ways, the moments of lightness in the film call to mind her 2017 film, Kita Kita (written and directed Sigrid Andrea Bernardo) with De Rossi having an unlikely leading man in the person of comedian Empoy Marquez.

They struck it right from the very beginning.

The friendship is also real.

But the comparison ends there.

My Amanda has an extra appealing leading man in the person of Piolo Pascual (as TJ/Fuffy). With his good looks, it’s not farfetched she might just fall for him and disregard the platonic nature of their friendship.

True, fans of the matinee idol expect full blown romance in My Amanda but it doesn’t happen. The closeness of their friendship could end where sexual tension might give way. Again, nothing like that happen despite the extra closeness.

But the big surprise of the film is that apart from Rossi (as Fream) essaying the lead role, she is in fact also the scriptwriter and director.

Indeed, a tall order for one used to just acting out her part in her past movie outing.

But the truth is Rossi delivers as a screenwriter and comes up with a script just as real and down-to-earth you find truth in life in every scene.

The lines sound like they are being delivered by your regular girl-neighbor next door. Even Fuff’s jokes sound like they were concocted by your own close friend with sarcastic brand of ribbing.

With just the two of them dominating the one-in-a-half hour film, you would expect boredom descending on the viewer.

But as the scenes unfold, you are actually involved with the characters and empathize with their predicaments. You get involved with love ties that didn’t work and you get involved with the character giving it another try.

This is the beauty of good writing delivered by De Rossi. She involves her audiences while staying connected with her characters.

There is a lot to dissect in the special friendship of Fuffy and Fream.

They aren’t just each other’s good confidants. They share special closeness that sometimes doesn’t happen even to true-to-life love birds.

They like watching the stars together at night, they are comfortable sharing the same bed with no intimacy coming into the picture. He is comfortable changing underwear while friend is watching and he is not shocked his friend is getting rid of her bra in public.

Indeed, they are so close in many aspects and one might just ask: why didn’t they just end up with each other?

True their screen chemistry is exceptional and the acting doesn’t call attention to itself. You realize the good chemistry only after you see the credits.

In the past, you can’t really equate Pascual with good acting with his good looks that don’t easily connect with his screen character.

But in My Amanda, he comes to grips with good acting by just being spontaneous and real. For once, his acting looks effortless and it did justice to the character as written by the actor-director.

As for De Rossi, she is just one damn good natural actress that does justice to every character she delineates.

There is a lot to see in De Rossi as director.

She can connect characters and she humanizes them with her brand of incisive direction.

No doubt about it, My Amanda is an auspicious debut for De Rossi as screen writer and director.

She got through the heart and soul of her viewers on first day of streaming and ended number one in Netflix on the first week.

Suddenly, De Rossi is hot property as actress, screenwriter and director.

She deserves all the mass accolades.

*  * *

Pascual (he also heads Spring Films which produced My Amanda) says the film left him with a good feeling after watching it for the first time.

He is all trust and confidence on De Rossi for many reasons. “She knew her material, she knew her script, she knew what she wanted, she knew her shots. I didn’t have to worry about her as an actress because I knew she could handle it.”

Pascual gave the go signal for the project because he believed in it and he is assured of a good outcome with De Rossi playing triple roles. “I didn’t have to worry about anything because she knew how to make the most of the character. “She told me to just report to the set as I am and to be myself.”

No reminders that Fuffy has to be this and that.

Nevertheless, Pascual knew it was tough for De Rossi as director mainly because she didn’t want to offend co-actors on the set. She was very collaborative and didn’t force something on co-actors.

Pouring all her heart and soul into the project took a toll on De Rossi’s health.

While working on the film, the 36-year-old actress said it took a toll on her health so much that she had to be hospitalized three times.

At first, she didn’t want to direct it.

She recalled: “Because of the film’s purely platonic relationship theme, it was a challenge looking for a director to take on the project. I decided to direct it because no one wanted to touch it. Because they found it a little bit unbelievable.”

Unbelievable or not, De Rossi pulled off a tale of true friendship and went head-on to challenge fire coming on her way.

She could very well be thinking of Chaka Khan’s Through the Fire which figures a lot in the film.

Now that the film is in the can and earning plaudits all over, she might as well be singing —

 

But I believe that we’ve only just begun

When it’s this good, there’s no saying no

I want you so, I’m ready to go

Through the fire

To the limit, to the wall

For a chance to be with you

I’d gladly risk it all

Through the fire

 

-30-

 

(My Amanda is now available for streaming at Netflix.)

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