A fun future for romantic comedies
English Only, Please is the exclamation point to a banner year from Antoinette Jadaone. As I’ve repeated time and time again, Jadaone should be given more mainstream projects. She manages to make clichéd local romcoms fresher than new each time. Her characters are always full of life. The dialogue is sweet but never too cheesy. English Only, Please is another clear example of that trademark.
The premise of the film is pretty simple. Filipino-American Julian (Derek Ramsay) hires English tutor Tere (Jennylyn Mercado) over the internet to translate a speech he prepared for his ex-girlfriend from English to Filipino. He travels to Manila to personally deliver it and enlists Tere’s help. They end up falling for each other along the way.
Jadaone and Pessumal’s script coupled with Villegas’ direction keeps the tone and pace lighthearted as it should be. The characters aren’t forced to fall for each other early on. This allows their chemistry to naturally develop throughout the film and endear themselves to the audience. Even big comedic set-pieces are eschewed in favor of witty observational humor. English Only also succeeds where many other romantic comedies fail: it weaves new technology and social media organically into its plot instead of using them as a cheap gimmick or mere product placement.
The film largely benefits from Jennylyn Mercado’s spunky performance. She is pretty much the heart and soul of this movie. An earthy everywoman portrayal coupled with flawless comedic timing made her an easy choice for Best Actress. On the other hand, one wonders what the committee saw in Derek Ramsay apart from selling the mommy issues. Then again, who better to play a version of himself than himself right?
English Only, Please also serves as a transition point. It is a glimpse into the future of mainstream Filipino cinema. Jadaone, Villegas, and many other members of the production crew come from the 2000s generation of Filipino Film and Art students. They have honed their award-winning craft throughout the years in the indie and “maindie” circles. Soon enough, the age of Bernal and Garcia-Molina will come to an end. If these cool kids continue to give us refreshing films like this, then the future is fun indeed.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars