Everybody wins in the battle of the sexes that lies at the heart of Girlfriend for Hire, a likable new film from Viva Films and SMDC. Based on a Wattpad novel of the same title by Yam-Yam, it is the perfect date movie.
Seasoned writer Jose Javier Reyes wrote the screenplay for this romantic comedy about love lost, love found and love regained.
A coy mixture of slapstick and situation comedy, the film remains true to its genre. It eliminates the need for villains and villainesses that usually add spice to any story.
Girlfriend for Hire starts with a conceit. Lolo Bernard (played with characteristic confidence by veteran actor Ronaldo Valdez) advises his grandson, Bryle Stanford (Andre Paras in his first leading-man role), to get married in order to preserve their moneyed clan’s bloodline.
As luck would have it, Bryle finds a fellow college student who agrees to his proposal, Nami Shanaia San Jose (charmingly essayed by Yassi Pressman).
They will pretend to be lovers: he to get his grandfather off his back and she to make money while at the same time living in a luxurious Stanford condo. You see, orphan Nami has just been evicted from her domicile and has nowhere to go.
For the unholy alliance to look credible, the couple must abandon their normally cat-and-dog regards for each other. They must look loving and loved in public. Bryle, in particular, is still smarting from a failed relationship—a girlfriend, Ellie (girl-next-door-sweet Shy Carlos who delivers a believable performance) has left him for greener pastures abroad.
To complicate matters, Nami meets her condo’s next-door neighbor whose drop-dead gorgeous looks and friendly ways bemuse her. Clint Bondad acts out this role, TJ Silvero, with equally drop-dead likability.
Direk Joey has extracted wonderful performances even from supporting cast members like Clint Bondad. Under his deft direction, Andre Paras gives a memorable performance that will be a benchmark for future roles as a comedian. It helps that the camera loves his face, focusing on his every antic and those expressive eyes, from long shot to extreme close-ups.
The cinematographer equally treats Yassi with tender love and care. The lenses transform her into a ravishing beauty that really radiate. Again, under Direk Joey's sure direction, she gives a performance that matches Andre’s in earnestness.
Forget some of the chinks in the plot—treat them as a given, and just enjoy yourself.
Also be forewarned. At Megamall before, during and after the film’s premiere, every time Bryle and Nami looked at each other, virtually everyone shrieked. When the two finally kissed, everybody went into hysterics. The rapturous crowd also screamed each time Adonis-looking TJ Silvero appeared, once clad in only a flimsy towel.
Girlfriend for Hire is rated PG by Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). It runs for just about two hours.
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