Review: Bea Alonzo, John Lloyd Cruz's IG chat that was actually an experimental film

Ratziel San Juan - Philstar.com
Review: Bea Alonzo, John Lloyd Cruz's IG chat that was actually an experimental film
Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd Cruz during their Instagram live session last Monday night.
Bea Alonzo via Instagram, screenshots

MANILA, Philippines — Director Antoinette Jadaone, who’s consistently had Filipino audiences reeling from her repertoire of "hugot" films like "That Thing Called Tadhana" and "Alone/Together," gagged all of us again with her new concept called “The Unconfined Cinema.”

In Jadaone’s experimental film “Love Team,” longtime onscreen partners John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo starred as themselves in a fictional Instagram Live conversation that lasted roughly 30 minutes.

What we expected to be the promo of a long-teased reunion project between the tandem turned out to be the project itself in what could be the plot twist of the decade.

The curtain was first pulled back by John Lloyd yesterday when he posted "Love Team’s" rationale on his Instagram account.

“The Unconfined Cinema was founded on the idea of exploring what else cinema could be, freeing our stories to be told outside of the traditional spaces and conceptual boundaries set by the last century of the medium. In this unprecedented time of quarantine, in a time when movie production is impossible, we found it especially pressing to find ways to tell our stories,” John Lloyd revealed, with the director herself posting the same message hours later.

“We are in a culture where the usually distinct line between reality and make-believe blur. We started this story by stating that ‘any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is intentional.’ And that remains true. It was the only way this was possible.”

Surely enough, the plot no one saw coming had been foreshadowed weeks back by John Lloyd.


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But to say that “Love Team” only banked on a one-time Shyamalan-esque twist and the social media gimmick, perpetuated in films like “Searching” and “Unfriended,” is to dismiss Jadaone’s work which operates on many levels.

Here’s a closer look at why the recent Bea-John Lloyd flick, if you may, works.

Suspension of disbelief

The concept of "suspension of disbelief" (not the phrase itself which was coined much later) is traced back to Aristotle, who described in his work "Poetics" that audiences of drama are willing to accept fiction as reality to experience catharsis in the process.

To a certain extent, viewers of the iconic IG Live were applying the same suspension of disbelief for a different reason.

Instead of an experimental film, some spectators at most presumed that the scripted conversation was a lowkey promo of an upcoming Bea-John Lloyd project.

Keep in mind that Filipinos are regularly bombarded with predatory “stealth advertising” across all forms of media.

Intentionally or not, the expectation of something else made the diversion all the more effective.

If you have seen Christopher Nolan’s 2006 film “The Prestige,” this is similar to the magician’s “pledge,” where the object they are asking you to inspect closely is a mere distraction from the actual act about to unfold.

And that’s what “Love Team” is.

Stripped of all the studio polish and production value, the conversation between Bea and John Lloyd became a magic trick we were willingly fooled by.

The Bea-John Lloyd tandem

Speaking of which, magicians usually employ good actors to help sell the illusion.

From acclaimed teleserye “Kay Tagal Kitang Hinintay” to the quintessential breakup movie “One More Chance,” Bea and John Lloyd had always enchanted Filipinos with their chemistry.

It goes without saying that both are capable actors that draw out tears and laughter just as efficiently.

We never cared whether the IG Live was scripted because they had all the authenticity to compensate.

Antoinette’s true-to-life writing

Of course, credit for the onscreen wizardry should largely go to Jadaone herself whose directorial presence can be felt sans the flashy cinematography, production design and editing.

What is left is her familiar writing style, particularly the dialogue. Seamless but potent.

Influential Filipino screenwriter Ricky Lee wrote in his scriptwriting manual "Trip to Quiapo" that real-life dialogue is markedly different from movie dialogue.

“Paano magsulat ng dialogue? Huwag mong isulat. Hayaan mong ang character ang magsalita... Dapat habang pinakikinggan natin ang character, hindi natin maiisip na sinulat iyon ng writer maraming buwan na ang nakalilipas. Dapat maniwala tayong ngayon lang iyon naisipang sabihin ng character,” Lee advised.

(How do you write dialogue? Don’t. Let your characters speak... When we listen to characters, we shouldn’t think that their words were written for them by a writer across the course of months. We ought to believe that the character had just said what was on their mind at the time.)

For this reason alone, Bea and John Lloyd’s half-hour exchange — which hopped anywhere from the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to the latter’s happiness with his son Elias — easily stands among Jadaone’s best work.

From the woman who co-wrote "Ekstra" and helmed about 10 other movie projects that subverted Filipino rom-com expectations, "Love Team" is another metanarrative that continues to challenge a century-old medium.




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