The strangest and perhaps most refreshing aspect about the romantic tandem of Maine Mendoza and Alden Richards is that it isn’t a product of corporate strategy.
It all happened quite spontaneously, with technology, social media, mob mentality, and an ample dose of mainstream media catching up conspiring to create something that stirred the industry – at least for the few months where the love team dominated most forms of mass media.
Now that a lot of the fanfare has quieted down, questions start popping up. Is there anything more to the duo than the hype that propelled them to extreme popularity?
Mike Tuviera’s Imagine You & Me attempts so hard to prove that there is.
In a nutshell
The film, written by Aloy Adlawan and Renato Custodio, keeps its ambitions very low. It is a simple romance, one that does not push for reinventing the wheel, or even refashioning it to create the slightest semblance of novelty.
Imagine You & Me is all about mining Mendoza and Richard’s love team for whatever’s left, after all of last year’s craze and frenzy.
Mendoza plays Gara, an overseas worker in Italy who has yet to experience having a boyfriend. Richards plays Andrew, the stepson of one of Gara’s employers who is still nursing a heart that has been broken by an unexpectedly rejected wedding proposal.
Of course, they meet – through a series of minor misunderstandings that are played for either laughs or off-tangent moralizations – and later on, they fall in love. Complications arise, but as with most romances with meager ambitions, love still wins.
That is essentially the film in a nutshell. There are no drastic surprises, no veiled disruptions of the established genre formula, and no further layers.
Tuviera’s game is to enunciate the film’s escapist intentions, creating an imaginary world where overseas workers have all the free time to muse about love, where everybody is pretty, happy, and if ever they are sad, it is due to matters of the heart. Everything is also draped in high definition gloss.
Parts are better than the whole
If there is anything that differentiates Imagine You & Me from all other romances, it is its insistence to play itself like how Mendoza and Richards love team was formed.
Gara, with her innocent desire for true love, is essentially a permutation of the Yaya Dub persona that Mendoza created for herself. Her sudden infatuation with Andrew, who she fawns over through pictures and videos in her cell phone, is also reminiscent of that distanced love affair Yaya Dub has with Richards.
In a way, Adlawan and Custodio maps the trajectory of the popular kalyeserye within the familiar narrative grooves of the genre. It’s quite ingenious, actually. Tuviera then complements the gimmick with remarkable touches.
The film repeatedly indulges in sequences that tease Gara and Andrew’s eventual meeting, obviously to evoke the same feeling of fate leading the two together, but only at the right time.
In an outstanding sequence that is shot in one long take, Tuviera, aided by Shayne Sarte’s smooth camerawork, has both Gara and Andrew navigate a house together without ever meeting, creating a fleeting romantic tension that is admirably sustained by craftsmanship.
The film is mostly a collection of finely conceived scenes – whether comedic, romantic, or dramatic – that are weaved together to create a serviceable whole that is dulled by sheer redundancy.
Overall, Imagine Me & You is the harmless diversion it sets out to be.
Thankfully, Mendoza still manages to evoke that very relatable charisma that captured the public, despite all the accumulated attention that has certainly diminished her novelty. Richards, on the other hand, plays his part with ample sensitivity. The film’s being well-made just adds a certain justification to all the heightened promises of romance.
At least, there is an effort by Tuviera and his team to bring something to the table and not just rely on Mendoza and Richards’ love team to shoulder all the expectations. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ Tirad Pass. Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema. Profile photo by Fatcat Studios