Emotional Weather Report, today in the Philippine Star.
Notting Hill montage from Distractions of Lola.
Every year we do a round-up of the Philippine movie industry and for the last four years it’s been the same story. The same movie, the same director, and the same actor.
The movie is Notting Hill. You choke on your coffee: “That’s not a Filipino movie.” No, it is a British-made romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant that made a gazillion dollars in 1999. It has also become the template for the box-office blockbuster rom-coms churned out by the leading Filipino movie studio of the last decade, Star Cinema.
Look at the formula. Good-looking, rather befuddled Boy meets pretty, strong-willed independent Girl. There is an immediate attraction-repulsion but the repulsion quickly vanishes, to the detriment of the plot. Egged on by their wacky and endearing friends who live only to comment on the protagonists’ romance, Boy and Girl move towards couplehood. (At least in the Notting Hill-Four Weddings school the friends/supporting characters are allowed to have characters.)
Boy may pursue Girl, but Girl really takes the lead. Someone makes a proposal, it is accepted, and they expect to live happily ever after. . .but wait! A crisis arises that threatens to tear them apart. As crises go it is inconsequential and easily resolved, but the protagonists and their one-note friend chorus go into High Drama Mode. They treat the silly non-crisis as if global warming had escalated insanely and the homeless polar bears will eat us tomorrow. They break up.