Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Catch Me I'm In Love – Charm, Conceit and a Blockbuster

Someone was burning the midnight oil, conjuring catchy phrases and word combinations that could a blockbuster make. In his desperate bid for ideas, he comes off short in his semantics. In fact, you don’t exactly “catch” someone who is in love; you do the catching when someone is “falling in love”. Catch? Fall? Get it? So for the most part, this titling offers a certain disconnect, thanks to the simpleton responsible for such inanity.

But inanity does not the movie make either.

The movie follows Roan Sanchez (Sarah Geronimo) who works for an NGO, partaking outreach programs in the far reaches of Cauayan, Isabela. To her consternation, the President of the country takes her to task – she is to assist – and evaluate - in the community immersion of the US-bred Presidential son, Erick Rodriguez (Gerald Anderson). Though initially attracted to the unmistakable allure of Erick, Roan soon finds herself annoyed by the latter’s thoughtless whims and arrogant glib.

But as romcoms go, it didn’t take long for Roan to fall for Erick, and when 22 kids literally “propose” to her (aww shucks), who can say no?

Long before the dust settles, it becomes clear that Roan is too far removed from the glitz, glamour, and dining etiquette of her famous boyfriend – and she is awash with insecurity that can't be simply contained within a very public relationship. What’s a girl to do?


The movie takes its formulaic stride by banking on the chemistry of this new cinematic pair, and they surprisingly succeed. Is there a new grouping now? “Sarald” or “Gerah”, maybe? Hopefully less violent than the acid-spewing Kimeralds. Director Mae Czarina Cruz weaves her narrative by dressing her “chicken” differently, but really now, it is the same romcom chicken that we've seen many times over. “Quarrelling couple turns lovers” has been told ad nauseam, but this is undeniably a fan movie, thus much of its conceit is unforgivable.


A month after it has opened, the movie has outlived newer releases (like Robin Padilla’s “Tum – My Pledge of Love”). It is raking the moolah that escaped “Hating Kapatid” too. (Sarah lost the "Box Office Queen" title because of the egg-laying capacity of that Wenn Deramas film). But on a more enlightened note, the film did NOT have a single product endorsement. This is mostly the hands of Star Cinema, who co-produced this with Viva Films. There were no intrusive spots on panty liners, pawnshops, or sing-along microphones. It made movie watching a more immersive experience.

On the technical side, the production is aided by brisk editing, a great location (the hanging bridge, the green fields of Isabela) and a spell-binding cinematography (Manuel Teehankee) that made a proper romantic canvas out of local color. Christopher de Leon and Dawn Zulueta make a perfect presidential couple while Arlene Muhlach and Joey Marquez, as Roan’s parents, typify the common folk adequately. Matteo Guidicelli (as Vitto) does well for his third-wheel role, but it didn't really have much to chew on, which is a waste. When Vitto suddenly drops a beat and raps his amorous advances, you are taken to hilarity. Matteo is a natural and he obviously deserves more screen time. Even the lovely Sam Pinto delivers a less stolid performance as the "other girl" who just might steal Erick away from "Roan of Caloocan". As plot devices, Sarah and Gerald are made to bicker and make up, they are even made to waddle in the mud and walk through glorious daylights, and as scenic as everything is, the whole narrative is nothing short of a fairy tale, albeit loosely based in reality.

Reality wont allow a “lowly” social worker to repeatedly and sarcastically call on a presidential son as “kamahalan” (your highness) regardless of how miffed she would be. Could anyone really call names on Jinggoy Estrada, Mikey Arroyo or even Kris Aquino whenever they act high and mighty? Or better yet, who in their right mind would send their son for a week's worth of community immersion to an NPA-infested province? As I said, the film is loosely based on reality – so it’s best to take it at face value.

Having said this, it is then a lot easier to masticate then swallow, and a fun time could be had at the movies. In fact, a great deal of this cinematic charm rests on a palpable chemistry – and then there is Sarah Geronimo!


Roan is Sarah Geronimo, and the two entities become one. When Roan giggles, you believe that it hails from somewhere frolicky fun and fancy-free. So it is easy to see why people love Sarah. Even her dramatic moments are gradually taking form and gaining ground (the scene where she breaks up with Eric at the party is more than decent), unlike “You Changed My Life” (which was a better film than this one) where Geronimo obviously played to the peanut gallery more than emotionally investing on her role). This, I surmise, is a star-making role, and she gets a thumbs-up from this side of discourse.


If indeed we have forgiven the predictability and cinematic conceit of “Catch Me I’m In Love”, dealing with Gerald Anderson is another matter. Anderson has been getting high marks from us in the past. We have noticed how comfortable he has been with his portrayals, but such “comfort” has given him undue smugness. Even the most beautiful men of the world can’t be as self-assured as Erick. In several scenes, he comes off emanating self-love, I half expected he would suddenly pleasure himself on screen as he was too enamored with himself! Even if Gerald were God’s gift to women, he will be a better performer when he reins off his conceit. His Erick didn’t leave me charmed nor blushing. I was simply unnerved.

Brooding Matteo

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