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MOVIE REVIEW: Maine Mendoza, still a natural in Imagine You and Me

by Mari-An Santos
Jul 14, 2016

There is a big, gaping hole that mars the story of Imagine You and Me starring Maine Mendoza and Alden Richards: Who, in this day and age, does not put a passcode lock on their smartphone? This is important, because much of the movie is premised on Maine’s character Gara walks through the life of Alden’s character Andrew through the information in his mobile phone. She is able to access his pictures, videos, messages, directory entries, and music. The movie’s statement on the fluidity of privacy in this cyber world is subtle but also deep.

EXCELLENT TWIST. On a high note, though, the twist of the story (that cannot be revealed here) is pure genius. Story writers Renato Custodio and Aloy Adlawan are to be credited for weaving it into the story so well that when the big reveal comes along, it interlocks nicely with the rest of the narrative. When it clicks in your brain during the screening, you’ll surely recognize the AHA! moment.

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SWEEPING SETTING. For a movie that makes no claims beyond tickling AlDub Nation’s kilig bones, this movie delivers on more than moments. Director Tony Tuviera manages to harness the kilig by combining situations and the loveteam with very good timing. Only about 20 minutes of the movie are set in the Philippines; the rest unfolds in Como, Italy, a picturesque lakeside town that is as romantic as one can get. There are sweeping aerial shots and tracking shots through the streets and promenades.

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STRONG CAST. As far as casting goes, the movie benefits from a very strong supporting cast. Marian Rivera showcases her impeccable comic timing in a single scene that elicits laughter; as do Ken Chan and Jeric Gonzales.

Yayo Aguila and William Martinez are naturals as Gara’s parents. Kakai Bautista and Cai Cortez, as Gara’s roommates, have a wonderful combination of chemistry and comic timing, that every scene that includes them elicits the right emotions. Jasmine Curtis-Smith’s performance is understated and appropriately so. Irma Adlawan shines as Andrew’s stepmother. It is no surprise that the scene that pinches at the heart most is between her and Alden.

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For about an hour of the movie, Alden’s only emotional state is grumpy and angry. Soon, it becomes clear that he is hurting from a broken heart and, one year since, still cannot move on. As a result, he lashes out on everyone. He is convincing enough, but his performance lacks nuances. He cries twice in the movie: once over his ex girlfriend and the second, over Gara—both times, Alden’s eyes brimming with tears feel very genuine.

Maine is a natural onscreen. Her reactions and delivery of dialogue generally flow as if they could actually be delivered in real life. Some lines in the voiceover try too hard to be witty, however. She shares the screen and plays off well with most of her co-actors—even the Italian Mama at whose restaurant they dine.

AlDub, by now, has found the perfect recipe for eliciting kilig and “awws” from viewers. From the surreptitious glances, to seemingly flippant lines, to just the right distance (or lack thereof) between them—all effective. As a bonus, the pair do some Dubsmash that will delight their Kalyeserye fans.

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MISSED CHANCES. Imagine You and Me also makes a statement about OFWs, the diaspora already a norm in our daily lives. This characterization is good as a backstory for Gara. Yet, the delivery could have been better. The movie missed the chance to show the side of the OFW life that relatives back home do not realize. The loneliness and longing of being in a faraway land, dealing with a foreign society and all its foreign ways and language, inconveniences that they have to face in order to give their families back home their needs and, more often than not, wants rooted in vanity.

Instead of lines that mention the negative, inconvenient side, the message would have been better delivered with cramped living spaces, xenophobic behavior (or prejudice against people from other countries), and self-“deprivation” in order to save enough money to send back to the Philippines.

Still and all, AlDub Nation will absolutely love the ending of Imagine You and Me. The crowd at the opening day screening applauded and cheered loudly. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why their pairing can never go wrong in a romantic movie.

Ed's Note: The 'PEP Review' section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial team.

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