“My Amanda” seems to be all over the online space these days with livestreamers talking about it on Kumu for days. After its premiere on July 15, it is currently lording it over the local flicks in Netflix’s Top 10. Here is our review of “My Amanda” by Spring Films and AWOOO.
Much like Love! Valour! Compassion! that’s told over the course of several long, lazy weekends, My Amanda is a quiet, poignant story about friendships and love. Written and Directed by Alessandra de Rossi, the film follows two very close friends, TJ (Piolo Pascual) and Amanda (Alessandra de Rossi) as they go through the highs and lows of their lives together.
The story begins when Amanda calls off her wedding to her fiancé, Kelvin (why he’s named after a unit of measurement is unfortunately neither explored nor explained) and what establishes TJ and Amanda’s rituals. They discuss their respective problems under the stars. Amanda is a hopeless romantic, and TJ is emotionally constipated. They each consider, and accept that their friendship is the only constant they have in their lives. As we progress through their journey, the film eschews the usual, tired cliche storylines in favor of the unconventional. And while the ending was predictable (no thanks to a few clumsy instances of forced foreshadowing), it does not take away from the emotional bombshell that drops in the last 15 minutes of the film.
There is very minimal set dressing in this film, and seems to be deliberate. The dialogue is blunt, raw, and biting. One is led to think that it is a simple adaptation of the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight, but to write it off as such would overlook the main conceit of the film: in that there is love in purely platonic relationships. The relationship between TJ and Amanda is charged with sexual energy, but it is overwhelmed by a tender affection they have for each other.
It’s refreshing to see this perspective, this shift of focus from the usual, passionate love story, to a sincere and heartfelt friendship we see very little of in film. And it’s ironic how grand gestures of love and romance are less common than the platonic and enduring kind of relationship between friends, yet we rarely see their stories play out in movies.
The technical aspects of the film are likewise worthy of note. The writing is clean and tight, and the production design is done quite well. The cinematography skews a little “touristy” at times, and the editing is clever, despite going a little full-tilt acid trip in the end. It is definitely suited for easy weekend streaming. It may not be the best choice given its pace and choice of subject matter for one who craves for excitement, but it shines in its introspectiveness, and the slow, quiet run of its plot. Indeed, the closest film in terms of aesthetics and treatment would be “That Thing Called Tadhana”, but even then, “My Amanda” manages to be its own person, so to speak. Its advantage is in its genuine and earnest authenticity: it is so much more believable.
All of this, along with the immensely convincing onscreen chemistry between de Rossi and Pascual make for some very engaging cinema. Their performances in this film are not very organic and dynamic, proving that they can each individually carry the film, but together they can make it fly.
My Amanda is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.
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