Imagine you were virtually alone and struggling to find your footing in a new place, but lo and behold a knight in shining armor with kissable lips and perfect hair smiled at you and promised you the moon and the stars. Would you believe him or would you punch him in the face and call him names? This encapsulates the first few scenes of the lovebirds of Star Cinema’s latest film Just the Way You Are.
Just the Way You Are is directed by Theodore Boborol and is based on a Wattpad book. It stars Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil or LizQuen, in my opinion, the most beautiful reel couple in local showbiz today. Sadly, their unparalleled physical attributes and undeniable charm are the only gems in this formulaic film.
Gil plays the good-looking and popular Drake Sison. He is the alpha male of a gang of gorgeous and happy-go-lucky boys. They are playful pranksters who gatecrash parties as fake policemen and striptease for money pride. Due to the dirty trick made by his bestfriend Andrei (Yves Flores), Drake loses. This is where the bet materializes. Soberano as Sophia Taylor conveniently appears in Andrei’s line of sight so she became IT. Drake has to make Sophia fall in love with him within 30 days and eventually tell her that it was all a bet. If he fails, he loses his status as the invincible chickboy of the group.
Sophia just arrived in the Philippines from the US. She juggles school and work at a milk tea shop to support herself and save for something she badly wants. Soberano looks like a goddess under normal circumstances but as Sophia, she has the eyebrows of pre-MTV Donita Rose. They look like dead centipedes above her eyes. The people behind the film did not stop at those Cookie Monster eyebrows, they gave her braces, perpetually sweaty face and unruly long hair. At one point, she wakes up without any stitch of make up. What sorcery is this?! (I know that normal people wake up fresh faced but in Star Cinema films, the leading ladies have makeover while they sleep so they wake up with eyeliner and lip gloss). The physical make-under would have made other actresses look like mere mortals, but Soberano pulled the ugly/pretty look off with confidence.
As I mentioned in the second paragraph, this film follows the tried and tested Star Cinema outline for romcom films. I will try to write the rest of the film in one rambling run-on sentence. Boy pursues girl, girl turns boy down, boy perseveres, girl relents, boy and girl share their deepest thoughts/angst/dreams, boy makes grand gesture of love, awww, girl falls in love, but wait! another girl who is the antithesis of the first girl, appears to break them apart, buhuhu, boy makes another grand gesture of love, awww, and they kiss and make up. Yey!
Just the Way You Are did not give me the kilig (giddiness) feeling because it tried too hard to be profound. Drake and Sophia are saddled with family problems to explain their characters’ foreboding. Their challenges give the movie a semblance of depth, maybe to show that it is not just another teen movie but in doing so, it took away precious minutes from their budding romance. In theory, it sounds wonderful to target teens with kilig scenes and adults with family drama, but in this film, the combination of the two just made the story convoluted without achieving kilig or empathy. If the film stayed true to being a romcom and not dwell on the drama part far too long, there would have been more giggles and gushing from the audience. It was also a pity that Sophia turn into a beautiful swan much later in the movie. After the 60-minute mark, I almost forgot how Soberano looked like in real life and staring at her eyebrows became too distracting.
Star Cinema movies usually dish out one or two memorable hugot lines that help inculcate the film in the minds of the viewers. I have been racking my brains for quite some time now but I cannot remember a decent one-liner from this particular film. There were a couple of lines Drake and Sophia used in the middle and at the end of the film but they were eyeroll worthy even for my standards.
Just the Way You Are is weighed down by its weak story, but the refreshing presence of its lead stars makes it watchable. Soberano’s smile lights up the screen and Gil’s tantalizing looks are magnetic. Their dramatic scenes are overly long at times, but they acted the heck out of them. Soberano is not self-conscious when she cries, and it results to heartfelt moments. She essays the role of Sophia with maturity beyond her age. Meanwhile, with his features and accent, Gil is perfect as the ingleserong (English-speaking) leading man, a role portrayed by Gerald Anderson in the past.
Soberano and Gil’s (LizQuen’s) first attempt to put their names up in lights, like Kimerald and Kathniel, is far from perfect, but they show that they have acting skills to match their beautiful faces.
- How cute is Matt, Sophia’s little brother? 🙂 Miguel Vergara, the adorable boy who plays Matt, is too precious for words.
- How wealthy is Drake Sison to do what he did on Sophia’s birthday? And that thing he did was too obvious. Speaking of Drake, Enrique Gil’s smile should have its own name on the billboard. It is the third best character in the movie.
- In the illogical part of my brain I had a transient thought that Drake’s father, Theodore Sison (Tonton Gutierrez) had a doppelganger. That it was really the doppelganger that Drake saw in a restaurant. Hahaha. This is the adverse effect of watching Outlander.
- Tita V (Yayo Aguila) is a makeup artist, so why did not she force Sophia to have a makeover right after the latter moved in?
- My favorite scenes: 1) When Sophia explained to Drake the importance of her old shoes, 2) Sophia and Drake’s bathroom encounter and 3) Drake smiling at Sophia at the end of the movie.