By Zsarlene B. Chua, Reporter
The Girl in the Orange Dress
Directed by Jay Abello
FILIPINOS love love stories, So it comes as no surprise that this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival had three romantic entries: Mary, Marry Me by Paul Soriano, One Great Love by Eric Quizon, and the focus of this review, The Girl in the Orange Dress by Jay Abello.
The title is a very intriguing — this writer immediately thought of the infamous “girl in the red dress” from Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993). But unlike the war drama, The Girl in the Orange Dress (TGITOD) is a romantic comedy about a woman who, after a drunken night, wakes up in bed with the hottest male celebrity in the country, Rye del Rosario (Jericho Rosales).
This one-night stand then sets of a paparazzi manhunt on a nationwide scale.
Anna (Jessy Mendiola Tawile) reluctantly goes to a house party with her friends — one of them, Kakai (Maria Sophia “Ria” Atayde), is adamant about meeting Rye as she says the fates have willed it for them to meet and fall in love.
As fates would have it, it is Anna who ends up in Rye’s bed with almost no recollection of what happened while the entire country goes crazy trying to find out who is “the girl in the orange dress” who managed to capture the hottest bachelor ever.
The entire film takes place on one day which Anna and Rye spend trying to avoid the bloodhounds and Anna tries to hide the hook-up from her friends, especially Kakai who’s also the president of the Rye del Rosario fan club.
Immediately The Girl in the Orange Dress makes it clear that it wants to follow in the footsteps of uber-successful romcoms of yesteryear such as the 2014 MMFF’s breakout hit English Only, Please and 2017’s All of You, both of which were directed by Dan Villegas, and both of which starred Jennylyn Mercado and Derek Ramsey.
While the effort to become a cult classic is appreciated, this writer feels TGITOD ultimately falls short — the emotional yet charming scenes which are meant to show how imperfect people fall in love fall flat, likely because it is hard to believe that the two protagonists can fall in love in the span of a night and a day.
In all fairness though, the scenes with the friends at the end are suitably touching and feel real, unlike the almost-forced love story Anne and Rye are telling.
If you want a more grounded tearjerker, this writer recommends watching the short film Kasilyas by Leslie Ann Ramirez of Bulacan State University, which is shown before Orange Dress. The short film is about a janitor who raises his mute daughter inside a restroom cubicle. It destroyed me emotionally.
Anyway, I digress.
I have issues with the film’s storyline (it is completely shallow) and how blasé they treat rape jokes (there is an elevator sequence I find objectionable) and sexual harassment (a tango teacher who slaps Rye’s butt because “he’s cute”), the latter two were things I felt could have been cut out of the film entirely.
I also did have an issue with how overexposed the hotel is in the film — I didn’t think the name “AG New World Hotel” (the film was set in the New World Manila Bay Hotel in Manila) needed to be repeated a hundred times, especially since the film is only an hour and a half long.
Mr. Rosales basically plays himself, a handsome actor, while Ms. Mendiola is a doe-eyed ingenue who suddenly has hang-ups against famous people — a lot of the time her acting fell flat although she was pretty good in the tango sequence.
The film isn’t without its charms: Sheena Halili, who plays Anna’s ditzy friend Sasha, was the film’s biggest laugh factory; and the sudden escape/heist sequence was enjoyable.
And then there is the cinematography which had a lot of close-ups, and Ms. Mendiola’s wardrobe (all three pieces) was pretty. And I do want her orange dress, which, after spending an entire night on the floor of a hotel room, had nary a wrinkle.
So there, take a cue from the father who came with his family to watch the film whose reaction to it was a confused “I think I enjoyed it? I think I enjoyed it.” Watch The Girl in the Orange Dress knowing that you HAVE to enjoy the film because ticket prices aren’t cheap.
MTRCB Rating: PG