Monday, November 5, 2012

Rory Quintos' Suddenly It's Magic - Engaging Escapist

Marcus Hanson (Mario Maurer) has always wanted to be an actor, but being a Thai celebrity is a different matter. Everyone wants a piece of him and it’s wearing him down. When perennial screen partner and girl friend Sririta Taylor (Pimchanok Luevisadpaibul) drops Marcus for another man, the pressure to keep appearances overwhelms. After all they have a huge fan base as screen sweethearts – and their current predicament might spell box office disaster for their new project. As a consequence, Marcus feels lost. He’s been in the business since he was 12. Things were different back then when everything was “uncomplicated, happy, perfect”. Now he wants to get away from it all; somewhere no one knows who he is. And his Pinay house keeper Chinggay (Joy Viado) gives him an idea.

Marcus escapes to Laoag north of the Philippine capital where he meets Joey Hermosa (Erich Gonzales), an unassuming local lass who takes pride in baking and peddling her delicious cupcakes. Unfortunately, Marcus makes a big misstep when, after a bite, he calls her cake “the saddest tasting cupcake ever” unaware that it was Joey’s creation. Joey is, of course, livid. And wooing the hard-working Pinay becomes a hurdle. So Marcus pulls out all the stops and makes the charm offensive. What lady wouldn't listen - with hearts a flutter - when a gorgeous Thai movie prince makes “ligaw” and “harana”, debah? A simple Pinay couldn't be immune to Marcus’ undeniable appeal where millions of Thai girls have already fallen.

Joey flies back with Marcus to Thailand. But the public’s reception for Joey is tepid. People call her “ugly” and she gets banned on the set of Marcus’ film set. What’s worse, Marcus starts missing important appointments, including an endorsement deal with a popular cola and a lucrative, albeit crucial audition with an American film director! When Joey meets Marcus’ mai (Apasiri Chantrasmi), she gets told that, while she may be good for Marcus, their coupling isn’t good for his career; something that he’s dreamt of all his life. Now he’s letting it all go. What’s a girl to do? 

Rory Quintos’ “Suddenly It’s Magic” traverses the modern day fairy tales. It's a world where a prince meets his unlikely princess. The cinematic palette dazzles with a motley of kaleidoscopic vignettes; postcard-pretty sites (windmills in Bangui, Ilocos Norte; the temples of Chiang Mai and Muang Boran, the miniature floating village of Ancient Siam; the picturesque Banyan Tree Resort, etc.); of local color that brims with enthralling traditions like the renowned Pinoy fiesta, or praying in Buddhist temples and Catholic churches, etc.) It’s hard not to fall in love with the pretty canvas. But the exposition, designed exactly like the current – and very popular – Thai romcoms, is limited by the scope of the genre.

"Suddenly..." is the perfect escapist fare. Situations arise as briskly, grazing over issues at the flick of a finger.

Mario Maurer is undeniably a sight to behold. His screen presence is so potent you don’t want to take your eyes off the screen when he’s there. He absolutely dominates the screen so you don’t wonder why he’s a huge movie star in Thailand. Maurer doesn't mind looking silly – as when he lurches into beat boxing and rapping to serenade his leading lady. Maurer is simply swoon worthy - and I've never heard an audience giggle and swoon as much as they did here - and for the most benign scenes. One thing's sure, Maurer has conquered the Philippines and how. This year, the Thais have made it to the Philippine silver screen with the “other” Superstar Ananda Everingham appearing in Cinemalaya's homoerotic “Kalayaan”.

Erich Gonzales, like her previous starrers, displays her relaxed demeanor in a character that could easily be schmaltzy. She is truly a rare combination of beauty and thespic wisdom. Despite a disconsolate back story (she’s the illegitimate love child of the incumbent governor played by Jestoni Alarcon), Erich disallows her character to wallow in anguish or self pity. Her story is seemingly told in almost cursory tack adequately harmonizing with the romcom genre. Erich’s gift is more the voice of experience than instinct making her one of the brainier actresses of her generation. Many other actresses who grew up in the business rely on experience, but Gonzales seems more cerebral. And yes, a heavy handed stroke doesn't do the genre good. So she does this with a calm and collected flair.

Unfortunately, the limitation of the genre is also its weakest link. When Marcus returns to Ilocos to reclaim his love (after a successful stint making his first Hollywood film), he faces the approbate beauty with  adequate conviction - that this time around, they will try to make it work. How? They have the same issues, and these remain unresolved. Marcus' mother and managing firm still think of Joey as a hurdle. He still has fans who believe he should be with Sririta. How different could their situation be this time? If they go about it the same way they did the first time, he will once again lose his dreams and put the blame on the hapless lass whose only "sin" was loving a popular star. Then they're back to square one, aren't they? The film, it seems, falls back to easy resolutions - and this is crystal to any thinking viewer.

"Suddenly It's Magic" isn't Quintos' best. In fact it could be her weakest, and any dingbat who fashions himself as a thinking "critic" will easily see through the flimsy, escapist veneer. But the more obvious fact is, the flick is a bowl of joy. It is a blissful watch. It's the sweetest cotton candy. It's saccharine sweet and tickles your fancy, but it's fluffiness melts in gustatory delusions.

"The saddest tasting cupcake ever..." cries Marcus.

A temple in Chiang Mai

An Ilocos beauty

So many lip locking scenes for Mario and Erich.

Zany duo hams it up before the camera (above and below).

Younger Mario Maurer who's already a looker as a pubescent boy.

A German-Thai charmer conquers the Philippines.

Be still my beating heart. :)

Beautiful Erich Gonzales



Gene said...

I don't know what it is that Mario have that everyone likes him. I was watching GGV last night and all I can think of is how good looking and charming he is, to think that I'm a guy as well haha. Anyway, I haven't watched the movie yet :)) Have a good day Ms. Cathy

Melanie said...

Thank you for this review Cathy :) I'm a fan of Erich not because of her beauty but of her acting. Dalawa lang sila ni Maja na gustong gusto ko umarte sa mga young stars ngayon.

I have to see this movie talaga.

Cathy Pena said...

Hi Gene:

It's very human to learn to recognize or appreciate "beauty" regardless of our gender or sexual preference. Mario Maurer is drop-dead gorgeous and he can charm people off their knickers. :) I find Erich refreshingly beautiful - and I'm a girl! Nothing wrong with that. Please watch. :)

Cathy Pena said...

Hi Melanie:

I like Erich too. She's very Pinay kasi unlike many other actresses who are mestizas. She is "purong Pinay" and I am very proud of her thespic ability. Yes, please watch. :)

Anonymous said...

I wish I was born physically as Mario =(


Cathy Pena said...

@ Jason:

I wish my boyfriend was born .... errrr.... nah. LOL

Mario is hot! :)

DarKScoRpioN said...

Mario Maurer has got to be the best actor in thailand. He is an excellent actor and is always a joy to watch on screen. I love his acting with Baifern in Crazy little thing call love. Looking forward to more of his movies. :)

Anonymous said...

I read your reviews after reading a few bad reviews about the movie. I am happy that you quite like the movie. I really enjoyed the film, yes it wasn't that great but still liked it. I used to hate erich for being in the movie. I thought that she was not a good actress but after watching the movie. I was surprised with how good she actually is. Nice review.

Cathy Pena said...

@ Poypoystardoom:

Thanks. It was an appealing film, mostly because of its charming cast. And start filling your blog with posts as well. :)