Friday, January 29, 2010

Alon (2008, Byron Bryant)


I’ve just seen Paano Na Kaya?, the latest generic love story churned out by the Star Cinema factory, and Iliw, a bland touristy offering from Vigan-based producers. The two films retread stories that have been done in earlier, better films. The disappointing Star Cinema film is so full of contrived situations that I’ve decided to lay off romance films from that prolific production outfit for a while. Yes, even future films of Anne Curtis.

As long as film scripts are shaped and mangled by a handful of so-called creative consultants, Star Cinema romance films will always be the same old dish served cold. I'll just wait for the few outstanding ones on cable television and DVDs. The precious pesos saved will be used for film marathons at Cinemalaya, Cinemanila, and Cinema One festivals.

Where to get some romance fix, then? There is another romance film on limited run at UP Film Institute. Alon was the least known and least heralded among all the local films slated this month at UP Film Institute. It was a big surprise then to find out that it is definitely worth a view. I had a good time watching the beautifully-lensed film.

Alon has an ace in the person of award-winning actress Charee Pineda. She portrays a nursing student named Maria Vanessa Cristina Onofre. While on vacation in her hometown, she meets Fiel (Mark Gil), a friendly middle-aged guy. She gets free cooking lessons from the brooding fellow. One night, a tipsy Vanni asks Fiel if he likes her. He answers back that it does not matter whether he likes her or not. Just when Vanni has deeply fallen in love with Fiel, she learns the truth behind his non-affection.

The early scenes are a hoot. With the tongue firmly in cheek, the repartee between Fiel and Vanni is sexy and hilarious. The delicious dialogues seem to be cut from the same mold as those from Temptation Island. There are also lots of teasing and seduction here just like in the comedy classic.

There is a scene in which a skimpy clad Vanni searches for a lost necklace at the beach during nighttime. It is a dumb thing to do but then it may have been part of the 17-year-old’s plan to seduce the middle-aged guy. The suspense gets intense as the seduction gets hotter. In the end, Vanni learns not only about cooking but also the different facets of love.

Indie romance films such as Alon serve as refreshing alternative to trite formulaic Star Cinema love stories. Several magnificent indie films do not always end happily but the characters are memorable and the performances superb. Here are a few recommended romance films: Jade Castro’s Endo, Mike Sandejas’ Dinig Sana Kita, and Connie Macatuno’s Rome & Juliet.

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