John Lloyd and the Infinite Cuteness
by Shinji Manlangit
My Amnesia Girl (2010)
D: Cathy Garcia-Molina
S: John Lloyd Cruz, Toni Gonzaga, Carlos Agassi, Joross Gamboa
2010 was a pretty good year for Star Cinema: six romantic comedies, two family dramas, two comedies, two horror films, and an animated feature which is the best thing that happened to Philippine mainstream cinema. Thirteen films, every single one of which had a love story angle (yes, even the kiddie movie had a few kalandian moments). I think it’s no secret that Star Cinema is pretty good at repeatedly dumping us with the same storylines albeit different with love teams. Star Cinema’s work for 2010 ranged from god-awful (Cinco) to meh (Miss You Like Crazy) to unforgettable. Cathy Garcia-Molina’s eleventh outing, My Amnesia Girl belongs in the latter. Also, it is without a doubt the cutest thing that came out this year.
Nobody could resist the charms of John Lloyd Cruz, which is why he’s the most bankable leading man out there. You could pair him up with a new chick and he would always find a way to make an appealing performance. My Amnesia Girl is really about Apollo (John Lloyd Cruz), a suave salesman who is getting tired of falling in love over and over again. Sure, he’s charming and he’s very likable but he always ends up wondering about the what could’ve been’s in his life.
Apollo is, in some ways, similiar to How I Met Your Mother’s Ted Mosby. Very enthusiastic about romance yet always falls for the wrong girls. Eventually, Pol stumbles upon Irene (Toni Gonzaga), the girl he left at the altar years ago.
Now, Irene is cool. She’s a photographer. She’s wearing the requisite Cathy Garcia-Molina trademark wig. She’s the only one who’s capable of jibing with Pol’s endless cheesiness. The universe conspired for them to meet.
However, Pol is a coward.
Which is why Pol is enthused when Irene tells him that she’s suffering from amnesia. And now Pol must prove himself worthy of Irene’s love by throwing her 28 birthday parties in a single night.
Suffice it to say, this part of the movie ends up feeling like Adam Sandler wooing Drew Barrymore every damn day in 50 First Dates with a more appealing leading man. Perhaps My Amnesia Girl’s biggest triumph is by revealing what one would expect to be revealed in the end—that Irene isn’t really suffering from amnesia.
From the start, Garcia-Molina brings you in on Irene’s sick joke, so you sort of feel sorry for Apollo and at the same time admire him for the things that he’s doing. One of the strongest scenes in the movie is when Apollo recreates the first time they met.
And he also fills her house with post-its:
The John Lloyd-Toni love team surprisingly works. One reason why it works seems to be that Toni and John Lloyd do a bit of role-switching for My Amnesia Girl. Toni is mostly known for bubbly roles, always exhibiting the attributes of what Hollywod would call a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, while John Lloyd is known to break hearts by being heartbroken. Remember that scene in One More Chance when Basha and Popoy meet at a dinner party months after their break-up? Yeah, John Lloyd works best when he’s broken.
But with My Amnesia Girl, Toni plays the broken character while John Lloyd works hard to make her whole again. Now the question remains: Is John Lloyd the first Manic Pixie Dream Guy to grace Philippine cinema?
I would say yes.
The A.V. Club’s Nathan Rabin listed 16 movies filled to the brim with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s (MPDG) charms and neverending quirks. He describes the MPDG as:
“…that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”
MPDGs are known to inspire a seemingly depressed character and make him fly out of his own cocoon of misery and sadness (best examined by Zach Braff’s Garden State). In My Amnesia Girl, Pol ends up resuscitating Irene from her misery. He gives her birthday parties and Christmas gifts for each year that she has lived. I mean, Jesus Christ, he looks like the nicest creature on the planet!
No other actor could portray the Manic Pixie Dream Guy except John Lloyd. I really think that as an actor he’s on top of his game even though he doesn’t expand his cinematic endeavors. Maybe one day we’ll see him in a darker, more sinister role (for a crime film, perhaps?), but until then I think people are still thankful for being charmed out of their pants for two-something hours inside the movie house.
An afterthought: I’m also kind of proud of this movie for giving us, the Filipino audience, our very own blow job gag. Seriously overused in international films and TV shows, but unheard of in this third-world country of ours.