The art of screenwriting according to direk Crisanto Aquino

Pablo A. Tariman - The Philippine Star
The art of screenwriting according to direk Crisanto Aquino
From left: Rocco Nacino, Yeng Constantino, Joem Bascon and Miles Ocampo, stars of Crisanto’s Write About Love, a worthy entry in the latest edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival.

Film review: Write About Love

MANILA, Philippines — There is very little written about writers probably because they don’t make for interesting subjects good enough for a romantic story fit for screen adaptation.

In real life, they churn out reams and reams of screen materials that later turn into blockbuster films or festival favorites.

But apart from being mentioned at the end of the screening, who gives a damn about screenwriters?

To be sure, the writers provide the framework from which good or bad films emerge but is their writing life worth a film subject?

Director Crisanto Aquino of TBA Studios takes one step ahead to film the screenwriters’ life in Write About Love, an entry in the 2019 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

This is a refreshing subject to explore because as far as one knows, there is very little film titles exploring the subject.

As one watched Aquino’s film, you feel like a part of a writing workshop exploring possibilities.

Two writers (Miles Ocampo and Rocco Nacino) — one a newbie and another the seasoned one — take on the challenge of rewriting a film called Just Us. All at once, you see a mentor-pupil relationship as they exchange ideas and find out what works and what doesn’t.

From the beginning, you can feel that the seasoned writer (Rocco) is trying very hard to sound very authoritative the hint of which intimidates the new screenwriter (Miles). But at the same time, he patiently guides her, throwing writing ideas here and there and then shows that a writer has all the choices how to end his or her story and in which direction he or she would like to pursue.

Talk of endless possibilities in writing.

To his credit, Crisanto manages to show the movie-going audiences how writers work and how a story evolves and in a very interesting, if not, cinematic, way. A suggestion is visualized, another ending is explored and then they discuss the ifs and buts of filmmaking.

As the film winds up, you see reel and real lives unfolding. True, the film shows that writing is not all that easy and that all engrossing stories begin as a writing journey paved with blood, sweat and tears. Just when you least expect it, the main protagonists portray another life fit for another screen story.

On the whole, Crisanto succeeds in portraying the screenwriter’s life and with all the pains and glory they go through.

For one, Write About Love is a good writing workshop film and a good introduction to film writing. It is a big plus that the studio didn’t hire matinee idol types to portray the part. In this film, you see ordinary people playing extraordinary roles that moviegoers often overlook.

Rocco played the part of the seasoned writer with just the right combination of a complicated mentor’s life. He is gentle and patient at one point and capable of candor even to the point of nearly breaking the heart of the aspiring writer (Miles). At this point, Crisanto drives home the point that all writers need real-life experience to complement his writing skills. He accompanies the aspiring writer to a trip to Sagada to illustrate that writers need a change of surrounding and a lot of breathing space to get to the bottom of an elusive story.

By and large, Write About Love informs and entertains.

It tells us that writers deserve far better treatment than they get and when you come down to it, there is really no great film without the writer.

As it is, Writing About Love is a very brave film with a lot of insight into the writer’s life. The gray but interesting life they lead is in fact veritable gold mine for film stories.

And a slice of a screenwriter’s life is what you get watching this film.

Rocco nailed the part with just the right amount of true grit and a guiding hand a mentor is capable of.

Miles is a picture of innocence and indeed she is typical of millennial writers who can verbalize a story but lacking the experience to make the characters live as part of contemporary life.

As for the actors playing the reel part, they acquit themselves with just the right touch of humanity in their interpretation. In this film, Joem Bascon and Yeng Constantino are virtual guinea pigs for a film narrative and through it all, they provide a good contrast to the real life the writers lead.

The film says a lot about possibilities — in the movies and beyond.

It tells you that you can choose a life based on what you think is good and fit for you. Just like the characters in the movie in the making.

It is a coincidence that a screenwriter of consequence, Ricky Lee, was in the audience during the premiere night. His book, A Trip to Quiapo, is very much part of the film and was the reference on which an aspiring screenwriter can choose the writing path he could take.

True, there are many ways to write about love.

It also tells us that it pays to know more about life to make sense as a writer.

In this sense, Write About Love is a worthy entry in the latest edition of MMFF.

It opens in cinemas on Dec. 25.

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