|Gerald Anderson and Arci Munoz in "Can We Still Be Friends"|
Screenshot from the trailer
From lovers to friends? Is it really possible?
This is the central theme of director Prime Cruz' first foray into mainstream filmmaking, aptly titled Can We Still Be Friends. Prime Cruz, who rose to fame after his audience favorite indie romance film Sleepless, about two insomniac outbound call center agents spending their nights together, is now entering the mainstream scene with this movie. This time, he works with two of the most bankable actor and actress of this generation, Gerald Anderson and Arci Munoz, to bring us a story that I'm pretty sure a lot of us can relate to.
"Can We Still Be Friends?" is centered on Digs (Gerald Anderson) – a no fuss, no frills kind of guy – and idealistic achiever Sam (Arci Muñoz) who are friends turned lovers turned exes. Their relationship as a couple lasted for almost eight years until they both decided on an amicable breakup. As they face the dating world separately, the ex-couple consistently check on each other under the guise of “friendship.” This turns into a competition on who will find a new relationship first only to find out that one of them is still in love with the other. Directed by Prime Cruz and with a screenplay written by Jen Chuaunsu, “Can We Still Be Friends?” is a love story that celebrates the indomitable millennial spirit as it attempts to ask the proverbial question: can exes really be friends? "Can We Still Be Friends?" also assembles a remarkable millennial supporting cast led by Bryan Santos, Ria Atayde, Brian Sy, Gege Severo, Erika Padilla, Markki Stroem, and Emmanuelle Vera. [Source: Star Cinema]
I have to be honest with you, I was expecting that the film would feel a bit different from the previous movies released by Star Cinema. But after actually sitting through the movie, I was totally overwhelmed. It felt nothing like any Star Cinema produced film I've seen before. It was like an indie film in disguise of a colorful mainstream romantic film. it was weird, in a really good way. The problem with most mainstream films nowadays is that they always follow a pattern. A stereotype. A cliche. Most romance films would usually involve some weird or overly dramatic story line, like it's taken out of a Wattpad story (don't get me wrong, I love Wattpad since I also write stories there at times). Most Pinoy romance films usually have a grandiose love story about a boy and a girl who would face odds to fight for their love. But at least, one in a while, we get some romcom movies that just wants to tell a simple story about simple people living simple lives- in short, a movie about real people. One that a lot can relate to. And Prime Cruz does exactly that.
The first few minutes of the film, I was already whispering to myself: this can't be from Star Cinema. It's just way too impossible. But yeah, believe it or not, it is. Thank God.
If you've watched Prime Cruz' prior work, the lovely indie fave Sleepless (2015), you'll notice his distinct way of filmmaking. And with Can We Still Be Friends, we can clearly see traces of that filmmaking. Long, lingering shots. Quiet scenes without any dialogues. Prime Cruz direction is so unique that his final product feels so refreshing and original (which is mostly because we are so used to watching mainstream movies and a lot of us are not that into the indie style of filmmaking). I love the way that he builds up the film's two main characters, with the film's first few minutes only showing the everyday life of Digs and Sam living together. From the usual conversation between two people, to those small irritating things that we tend to do (like forgetting to refill empty bottles of water in the fridge, which I am so guilty), the way he creates and molds these two characters and their world is so simple and ordinary that everything felt so real. Their characters are very well-established and developed that you actually root for them. Unlike most movies, Digs and Sam behave and act like real people, and not just stereotype characters who are manipulated like chess pieces along the way.
Another strength of the film is it's leads. Gerald Anderson have already proven to us that he is a capable actor, with his highly applauded films Always Be My Maybe (the first movie he was paired with Arci) and How To Be Yours (2016) which is my favorite. His approach to his character, Digs, is simple, yet truthful. He doesn't come too over-the-top unlike those romantic dramas where the guy ends up throwing a very powerful and emotional line to make the film memorable (and campy) during it's climax. He's just, I guess, chill like most average guys are. Arci Munoz plays the perky girlfriend Sam. Her character provides most of the film's humor, and she deserves credit for making the film more fun for all of us. Arci Munoz really shines the most in this movie, as she entertains us for the rest of the film. Gerald Anderson's Budoy joke and strip dancing was quite entertaining for a while, but it was her relatable rants about pancit canton and traffic in EDSA and funny quotes which kept the audience engaged. The two of them just looked so good together on screen. There's oozing chemistry between the two and director Prime Cruz knows how to squeeze all that juice out of the couple. The supporting cast were also good, but the one that would really catch your attention is Juan Miguel Severo. His lines will always pull out a laugh or two from the audience. I guess he always nails the part of the gay best friend, and I'd love to see him do more. And that wedding vow that he wrote for the film, it was just so affecting and lovely.
With a witty and inteligent script by Jen Chuaunsu mixed with calculated and gorgeous cinematography and a cute soundrack featuring Toni Gonzaga's rendition of the song of the same name, this simple yet truthful take on every millennial couple's lives today is definitely relatable and undeniably entertaining.
Rating: ✰✰✰✰ of 5
Can We Still Be Friends (2017)
Starring Gerald Anderson and Arci Munoz,
Directed by Prime Cruz