Everything about My Amanda is spontaneous.
It is light but not frivolous. It is endearing but not in the way rom-com romances are written and marketed.
In some ways, the moments of lightness in the film call to mind her 2017 film, Kita Kita (written and directed by Sigrid Andrea Bernardo), with Alessandra de Rossi having an unlikely leading man in comedian Empoy Marquez.
They struck it right from the very beginning.
The friendship is also real.
But the comparison ends there.
My Amanda has an extra appealing leading man in Piolo Pascual (as TJ/Fuffy). Given Piolo’s good looks, it’s not far-fetched that she might just fall for him and disregard the platonic nature of their friendship.
True, fans of the matinee idol expect full-blown romance in My Amanda, but it doesn’t happen. Their tight friendship could end where sexual tension might give way. Again, nothing like that happens despite the extra closeness.
But the film’s big surprise is that apart from de Rossi (as Fream) essaying the lead role, she is in fact also the scriptwriter and director.
Indeed, that’s a tall order for one used to acting.
But the truth is, de Rossi delivers as a screenwriter and comes up with a script so real and down-to-earth you find truth in life in every scene.
The lines sound like they are being delivered by the girl next door. Even Fuff’s jokes sound as if they were concocted by your own close friend, with sarcastic ribbing.
With just Pascual and de Rossi dominating the one-and-a-half- hour film, you would expect to be bored.
However, as the scenes unfold, you actually get involved with the characters and empathize with their predicaments. You get involved with love ties that didn’t work and with the character giving it another try.
This is the beauty of good writing by de Rossi. She gets her audiences involved even as she stays connected with her characters.
There is a lot to dissect in the special friendship of Fuffy and Fream.
Not only are they each other’s confidante, they also share a special closeness that sometimes doesn’t happen even to true-to-life love birds.
They like watching the stars together at night, they are comfortable sharing a bed with no intimacy coming into the picture. He is comfortable changing underwear before his friend, and he is not shocked that his friend is getting rid of her bra in public.
Indeed, they are so close in many aspects that one might just ask: why didn’t they just end up with each other?
True, their screen chemistry is exceptional and the acting doesn’t call attention to itself. You realize the good chemistry only after you see the credits.
In past movies, Pascual’s good looks could get in the way of the character, but not in My Amanda, where he is spontaneous and real—good acting. For a change, his acting seems effortless, doing justice to the character.
De Rossi is just one damn good natural actress who does justice to every character she delineates.
There is a lot to discover in de Rossi the director. She can connect characters and humanizes them through incisive direction.
No doubt about it, My Amanda is an auspicious debut for de Rossi as screenwriter and director.
She tapped into the heart and soul of the viewer; on its first week in Netflix, it was number one.
Suddenly, de Rossi is hot property as actress, screenwriter and director.
She deserves the accolade.
Pascual, who also heads Spring Films, which produced My Amanda, says the film left him with a good feeling after watching it for the first time.
He is all trust and confidence in de Rossi for many reasons—“She knew her material, she knew her script, she knew what she wanted, she knew her shots. I didn’t have to worry about her as an actress because I knew she could handle it.”
Pascual gave the go signal for the project because he believed in it and he is assured of a good outcome with de Rossi wearing triple hats. “I didn’t have to worry about anything because she knew how to make the most of the character. She told me to just report on the set as I am and to be myself.”
Nevertheless, Pascual knew it was tough for de Rossi as director, mainly because she didn’t want to offend fellow actors on the set. She was very collaborative and didn’t force something on her co-actors.
Pouring her heart and soul into the project took a toll on de Rossi’s health, such that the 36-year-old actress had to be confined in the hospital three times.
‘I decided to direct it because no one wanted to touch it. They found it a bit unbelievable’
At first, she was reluctant to direct it. She recalled, “Because of the film’s purely platonic relationship theme, it was a challenge looking for a director to take on the project. I decided to direct it because no one wanted to touch it. Because they found it a bit unbelievable.”
Unbelievable or not, de Rossi pulled off a tale of true friendship and met head-on the fire coming her way.
She could very well be thinking of Chaka Khan’s Through the Fire, which figures a lot in the film.
Now that the film is earning plaudits, she might as well be singing:
But I believe that we’ve only just begun
When it’s this good, there’s no saying no
I want you so, I’m ready to go
Through the fire
To the limit, to the wall
For a chance to be with you
I’d gladly risk it all
Through the fire
‘My Amanda’ streams on Netflix.