Romantic comedies are everywhere. They make up the bulk of what contemporary Philippine cinema has to offer. Apparently, this seems to be what the general public enjoys viewing in film, especially with a recent proliferation of “love teams”, combined with a generally positive and romantic view of Filipinos towards love.
One such romantic comedy is “Imagine You and Me”, a film by Director Michael Tuviera. It starred the famous “Aldub”, the tandem of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza, along with some big stars as supporting actors and actresses or just plain cameo.
A phrase that could describe this movie is “very different”.
Having said that, I should explain.
Graciana “Gara” Malinao (Maine Mendoza), an OFW working various odd jobs at Italy, is a firm believer of true love while being a hopeless romantic. One day, she stumbles upon Andrew Garcia (Alden Richards), a mysterious, somewhat reserved, and very practical man. As the two cross paths in Italy, they learn each other’s personality and slowly fall in love.
At first glance, the overall quality of the film stands out quite differently compared to most other contemporary local films. Besides being shot in various locations in the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy, there are some elements and methods used in the film that seems very unconventional and very different when pitted against contemporaries. It takes a few more viewings for a moviegoer like me to actually think like a film critic when viewing the film (it took me four viewings).
The overall cinematography is amazing (Shayne Sarte is worth mentioning here). Some of the best parts of the movie could’ve been boring, but the skillful movement of cameras really made the intended emotion flow from the screen to your heart. There were extended periods of single-camera use (3-5 minutes in one scene) in which the camera skillfully tilts, runs, stops, and chases characters, making it a really dynamic viewing experience without having to make you dizzy. Overall, the camera movements are spectacular, comparable only to other lengthy yet fantastic single-camera scenes in other movies like Children of Men (2006).
The camera angles weren’t as diverse as in other movies, but it is enough to convey the ideas to the viewers. Most views were either only eye-level or birds eye, which, for a rom-com like this, seems sufficient. Even the birds-eye views are used quite rarely as well — usually, it depicts scene transitions. It helps in giving closure to each scene. Nothing special about it, but it is camera use done right, I should say the least.
Lighting was basically untouched–the movie relied on what natural light the setting produced. Since the days in Como were generally bright, I also believe there was no need to work on this part.
The musical scores and songs used were very appropriate to the movie, giving the scene more life and successfully serving as supplement to the emotions the movie intends to convey.
As expected with most rom-com local films, the use of certain objects is central to the motifs of the entire film. Some objects in the film are symbolic of the characters themselves. Under this same category are some parallels drawn from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which the character Gara seems to like. These are aspects of the film that appeal to the sentimental section of the viewing public.
The story is still typical boy-meets-girl in local movies. Another typical aspect is one of poor-girl-meets-rich-boy (although the story doesn’t really touch anything about money, the central premise still remains). The highly anticipated ending is somewhat reminiscent of the classic A Walk to Remember (2003) in terms of screenplay and dialogue.
However, the chain of events that lead to the ending differs from repetitive themes in other movies, most probably due to the peculiar personalities of Gara and Andrew. The story is generally cohesive and easy to follow, owing to the fact that it’s a typical one, although some scenes seem to have been patched up in the wrong place, thus temporarily interrupting one’s experience of a (sometimes crucial) scene. Another notable shortcoming is that the story flow seems to have “gaps” in it. The general story could be followed easily, but there are quite many parts where one will be probably asking “how did that happen?” or “wow, that escalated quickly”.
The film’s characters are well-defined. A viewer will, at once, feel that the characters are human. Their good and bad attitudes, their aspirations, goals, and beliefs, and even the way they talk and other mannerisms are very visible. This part is so excellent to the point that even the supporting characters and other cameo characters are successfully humanized as well. One can feel genuineness in their actions, particularly the way Gara talks to her friends Vangie and Winona. One would not feel like they’re forced to their characters. Some lines, especially from Gara, seem way out of line, but we can interpret this as one manifestation of Gara’s hopeless romantic personality. One can safely assume that the main characters were especially written to suit Maine and Alden’s real-life personalities.
Overall, the movie is not one to disappoint. In fact, it even exceeds expectations. It defies the jeje commonly associated with love teams. While the film may have its own fair share of shortcomings, these were easily made up for by more significant, well-made scenes. Add the “uncontrollable kilig” factor that Aldub has perfected for a year, the film was enjoyable, designed to make its viewers squeal and ultimately scream when the kilig can no longer be held back.
The story of Gara and Andrew is the story of every true lover out there, and the way Maine and Alden portrayed them is one worth remembering. Watching Imagine You and Me and allowing one’s self to absorb all the emotions thrown their way will keep viewers at the edge of their seats, and could send one from laughter to tears and laughter again quite easily. Imagine You and Me is the movie that will leave you dreaming in the clouds even hours after the movie ends.