Saturday, December 21, 2019

MMFF 2019: Review of WRITE ABOUT LOVE: Ramifications of a Rom-Com

December 20, 2019

As an amateur writer myself, I look forward to watching films about how writers write. When I think about films about the writing process, some memorable ones would be "Adaptation" or "Shakespeare in Love," watching Charlie Kaufman or Shakespeare grapple with writers' block. When the trailer of this MMFF 2019 film showed that this was going to be about two writers collaborating on one film project, it got me excited to watch it. 

Female writer (Miles Ocampo) was just given the green light for her first script for a light rom-com entitled "Just Us". However, the producers decide to hire an older Male Writer (Rocco Nacino) to collaborate with her and give her "mainstream-ish" story an indie edge. So the course of the romantic relationship between the two characters, Joyce (Yeng Constantino) and Marco (Joem Bascon), constantly change in consonance with the evolving decisions by the two writers as to where the plot would go. 

I first knew Miles Ocampo as a perky child actress on TV's "Goin' Bulilit." She's now a pretty young lady and quite a promising actress to boot. Her portrayal of a fledgling scriptwriter was earnest and idealistic, but willing to learn and compromise. Rocco Nacino is 10 years Miles' senior in real life, but his Male Writer looked hip and young enough here to pass for a possible love interest for Female Writer. The two had chemistry in spite of their contrasting styles in writing, and this made for an interesting "reality" story to parallel the fictional story.

Yeng Constantino was a fine choice to play the sweet, cheerful, flighty Joyce, a singer in a band. She gets to sing the movie melodic love songs "Kapag Ako ang Nagmahal" (originally by Jolina Magdangal) and "Ikaw ang Akin" (a Crisanto B. Aquino original). The versatile Joem Bascon is a very busy actor seen in several films and television soaps within this year alone. His Marco was a serious and reserved sort, and Bascon gave him depth. 

Their personalities did not seem to jibe at first, so chemistry was not instant. But eventually, their relationship grew on me as their story went along. This development of a cinematically-believable romantic couple is precisely the aim of an effective romance script, and that was what our writers are trying to figure out together. The realistic relationship ups and downs Aquino included in his script worked -- for both Joyce and Marco, as well as for Female Writer and Male Writer. 

Writer-director Crisanto Aquino crafted a sweet, smart and engaging "film within a film" that highlights the various forms and styles the Pinoy rom-com had evolved through the years. Because of its unique structure, we get to compare side by side the more frivolous mainstream style and the more angsty indie style of rom-com, as portrayed by the actors in the colorful fictional film with Joyce and Marco, and as described by the respective proponents in the grittier main film with Female Writer and Male Writer, whose names we only find out in the final frame. 8/10. 

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