"Write About Love," an entry to this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, is a movie that pays homage and pokes fun at the tropes of the very popular romantic movie genre.
The result is both unsurprising and awe-inspiring, which means it should delight fans of Pinoy romantic movies and anyone who is looking for love on the big screen this Christmas season.
In "Write About Love," actress Miles Ocampo plays a female writer who just sold her first script, a romantic movie titled “Just Us,” to a film studio.
But even before she can celebrate, her producers deliver a devastating news: another film studio just released a trailer of an upcoming movie with a story similar to hers.
“We need to redevelop it,” one of the producers tells her, with another of them piping in, "Yung kwento mo kasi, may pagka… mainstream-ish."
So their solution: get an experience screenwriter, played by Rocco Nacino, to help the neophyte female writer revise her script and turn it from a boys-meets-girl story into a relationship story.
As expected, the female writer, a no-boyfriend-since-birth with idealistic notions about love, clashes with the male writer’s no nonsense approach about writing. But soon enough they settle their differences to develop the perfect movie love story — and, perhaps, also their own?
If you’re wondering why mentioning Miles and Rocco’s character names aren’t mentioned here, it is because the movie does not reveal it until the very end. It is a smart but needless gimmick, the mileage of which will depend on whether you get its point or not.
The movie then shows us the writers’ vision for their onscreen love story. In “Just Us,” Joyce (Yeng Constantino) and Marco (Joem Bascon)'s seemingly perfect relationship is dented, thanks to Joyce’s dream of working in South Korea as a singer.
Writers making a love story isn’t a new topic in Philippine cinema. It isn’t even new in the context of the Metro Manila Film Festival. The 2015 MMFF entry "#Walang Forever" is about a screenwriter, played by Jennylyn Mercado, whose relationship becomes material for her movies.
There’s also the recently released "Last Fool Show," about a female indie filmmaker who uses her failed relationship as material for her first mainstream romantic movie. The movie switches aspect ratios (from widescreen to full screen) to distinguish between the two sides of her narrative — a gimmick that "Write About Love" also uses.
But "Write About Love" is different. It uses the film-within-a-film conceit to deliver what feels like a love letter to the Pinoy romantic movie genre.
If you’re a fan of local romantic movies, "Write About Love" will make you realize how the genre has evolved the past couple of years. It works for the most part.
For instance: the two writers end up writing a movie that probably won’t be out of place in the slate of a mainstream movie company… in 2014. (Spoiler alert: besides the work versus love conflict, Joyce and Marco’s love story involves big romantic gestures, best friends falling in love with one another, among other cliches.)
Wasn’t the female writer criticized for writing a “mainstream-ish” story?
But that’s also the point; the film-within-the-film has to be “mainstream” in order to point out its absurdities and pay homage to it.
In one of the movie’s funniest scenes, Miles and Rocco debate whether or not Joem’s Marco should get a female best friend. The point is moot but it is still funny nonetheless.
He needs a male best friend; he’ll just fall in love with a female best friend, Miles tells Rocco.
Isn’t that a bit mainstream, Rocco replies.
In another scene, Miles makes Yeng’s Joyce utter to Marco: “Mahal mo ba talaga ako, o minahal mo lang ako?” The line is ridiculous — it doesn’t make sense, when you really think about — but it’s the kind of dialogue that is the bread and butter of the genre.
"Write About Love" recognizes the ridiculousness of the tropes and cliches of our big screen romances while fully indulging in it. It is, after all, a love letter, so "Write About Love" wouldn’t criticize what makes the Pinoy romantic movie tick.
Rocco suits his leading man role. He has the swagger of a young up and coming director and the quiet confidence of an established auteur. And as a bonus, he looks good on screen, too.
While he entered showbiz as a contestant in the Kapuso reality talent show Starstruck, he actually broke through as an actor in the 2011 Cinemalaya movie "Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa."
He hasn’t done a lot of movies recently (his last was the 2017 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino entry Bar Boys) and one would hope, after watching "Write About Love," that he appears in more of them. He has the looks and the charm to be the next big romantic movie leading man.
Miles is also an aspiring screenwriter like her onscreen character, having attended Ricky Lee’s screenwriting workshop a few years ago. This is also Miles’ first lead role in a movie. That bit of authenticity seems to have lent her portrayal some sort of gravitas.
"Write About Love" is about so much more, of course. It’s about the different kinds of love we encounter and how it affects our lives. It’s also about the struggles of screenwriters in the country and how they are not always recognized. At its core, it’s about why we love romantic movies so much.
"Write About Love" is a smart, intimate film that also delivers the requisite romantic “hugot.” It’s a worthy movie to watch this Christmas. — LA, GMA News