IMO: “Rome & Juliet” (Reposted)


Was watching this movie on tv just now. Didn’t realize it had been 3 years since it was shown!

Reposting this from my personal blog, along with comments from the director.

If you have the edited copy of “Rome & Juliet”, please lend it to me naman. Would love to see the changes made since I saw it in 2006. Thanks!ü

IMO: Rome & Juliet
[This post first came out last 25 November, right after the screening of ROME & JULIET in Robinson’s Galleria. I have edited it a bit and added a few more comments since. Additional comments are in lavender.]

Just saw Rome & Juliet, Connie Macatuno’s creation for Cinema One Originals. We were actually forwarned that we might be disappointed by the film. But since L had the hots for the two leads, and I’ve been on drugs for weeks now, I had prepped myself well for the two hour (which turned out to be almost three hours) long movie.

I had kept an open mind and hoped that the film will treat Filipino lesbianism with a fresh and modern flair. Although I had been briefed that the lead characters were of a wedding planner and the bride, very very reminiscent of Piper Perabo’s Imagine Me & You; I hoped that there would be a different twist in this story.

[One thing I remember very clearly in Mr. Ricky Lee’s scriptwriting class was to choose a topic, a plot, that we are quite familiar with; it was made clear that while an idea or a concept may be new to the Filipino viewer while it has been done in Hollywood or other Western Cinemas, it does not necessarily mean you can use the same plotline in a Filipino movie.]

There were no stereotypical tomboys in the film, as evidenced by its two leading ladies, Mylene Dizon and Andrea Del Rosario. I was pretty sure that neither of them will act even a tad bit boyish as Mylene was too beautiful to be made into a dyke and Andrea had a sexy image to consider. Although I’m pretty sure both ladies would have pulled off a butch persona, it would be a waste not to use their looks for some cinematic eye candy. And I’m quite sure they were the reason the premiere was SRO.

The movie starts off with Rome being introduced as a woman of the world — gorgeous, independent, and sexually available but emotionally unattached. She is dressed very sophistacatedly, fitting very nicely into her LBD. Her so-called love scene with, I think, some French guy establishes that she isn’t into relationships, much less love, and that she is very much in control of her life. Incidentally, Rome takes on the woman-on-top position to state this fact further.

Juliet, on the other hand, is very typically Pinay. Morena, with kind yet dramatic features, long hair and dressed very feminine attire — long billowy skirts, floral skirts and shirts, lace tops, etc. in very soft hues. Her light, almost non-existent makeup say that she is a simple girl with simple desires. Or so we are made to believe. She is engaged to be married to Mark, a charming politico but a mama’s boy. So Pinoy, isn’t it?

Going back to the story… Juliet decides to visit a wedding coordinator to help her with her coming wedding to Mr. Politico. But on her way to the coordinator’s, she is turned down by her friend Sarah who had made plans to go out with “a friend,” who picks her up from work and who, incidentally, turns out to be a girl. Mabait na friend, ‘kamo, di ba? Anyhow, she is curious and intrigued by her friend’s friendship.

As she gets to the wedding coordinator’s floral shop, she sights this beautiful and arresting girl getting into her SUV (what is it with lesbians and SUVs?). Shots of the woman’s pointy, olive green snakeskin stilletos smoothly climbing into the SUV’s driver’s seat slow mo us into Juliet’s initial surge of attraction.

Interspersed between some of the scenes establishing the two leads’ heterosexuality (moments with their respective boyfriends/fiancee) are scenes of Rome in the convent talking to or praying with some nuns and Juliet doing shores with and for her mom, father and siblings. Picture perfect moments of opposing realities.

Juliet finally sees Rome while in church, and we see how she is so unwittingly enthralled by Rome, she can barely say a word. With Juliet finally getting the nerve to talk to Rome, she points out the sheet of Kleenex that gets stuck in Rome’s stilettos. The two start a converstaion, which blossoms into friendship which develops into an (implied or imagined?) intense attraction for each other. And as they say, the rest is history, or in this case, literary history.

Now to get to the nitty gritty.

Technical direction of Rome and Juliet is not its weaker points. As a digital film, the movie manages to tell its story in a dynamic, almost in an as-we-might-have-actually-seen-it mode. Camera shots, expectedly, are jerky, with many focus-defocus problems, a tape defect here, a pixel problem there. Lighting was quite natural, except for the Rome shots which were carefully chosen and set up to give her an almost ethereal, glamorized look. Not a huge feat as Mylene Dizon is so naturally seductive and soft. It seemed a little bit too carelessly seamed, with some editing techniques misused in several scenes. If editing doesn’t satisfy much, much less does audio. Important scenes and dialogues were lost with the too noisy ambient sound (Pasig City traffic, anyone? Hospital bustle, perhaps? Or the too quiet chapel where the two leads can barely be heard at all?). Perhaps a simple lapel would have sufficed if a boom mic was not available.

In as much as a digital film does not require that many an equipment, digital films also demand so much more skillwise and creativity-wise. Don’t have an available boom? Use a computer microphone. Boom visible in a medium shot of the leads’ dialogue in church? Move it to the top and reduce some headroom. Planning how a scene should go by rehearsing each one to the last movement from the actors to the cameramen or merely framing a scene beforehand (by taking a mental picture or by storyboarding) is necessary to avoid those jerky camera movements. The Blair Witch Project may have succeeded in the Jerky Movements Category, but last time I checked, jerky camera movements have not been merited as good filmmaking skills. This isn’t to diss the cameramen but siguro naman they could have taken more care in avoiding those nakakahilo scenes, right? As for editing, cut to cuts are inevitable, but careless editing does not help in the narration of a visual story. I suppose time was a major factor on why the editing was not very clean and pulido.

In the acting department, Mylene Dizon wins over many more followers with her sensitivity to the varying emotions that Rome has to go through. She is impressive with her very natural reactions, allows her personality and warmth to permeate through a character, does not seem contrived or forced. A simple eyebrow raise, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips, her eyes raging intensely in anger or softening in affection, she manages to pull off a very real, very natural reaction to what her character is going through. Andrea, on the other hand, seems too busy trying not to look (pa-)sexy, struggles a bit as to whether to be boyish or girly in mannerisms and actions. She lacks that certain oomph, that fire and intensity and heat that is there when two women are in love — and in lust, with each other. This challenge to bring the fire onto the screen is on her shoulders as she is the one who shows interest from the beginning. Not a difficult task as Mylene Dizon is one h.o.t. mama — definitely a MILTF!

To be perfectly honest, I was disappointed on how the Mylene reading-her-poetry-response-to-Juliet scene turned out. It was a let down considering that Mylene was doing a fantastic job as Rome. She seemed sabog (all over the place) parang free style na walang sense. But the thing is, it was obviously just caused by bad editing. If the movie was too long and needed to be cut shorter, why sacrifice the poetry which has to be seen whole instead of the establishing shots of the two lead characters’ heterosexuality? The shots for Mylene’s poetry scene were pretty good, the close ups, the panning from behind the beaded decor, and lastly, the music, were quite nice. But the whole time this was going on, we were wondering, what the hell happened to Juliet??? Lastly, parang mas na-excite pa si Sarah with what Rome read than Juliet herself. (Oh, kudos to Glydel Mercado for her very real reaction to the two women’s kissing scene. :D)

As for Rome and Juliet’s kissing scene, as hot as they are and as hot as it is to see them kissing, for me it lacked fire. FIRE. Any lesbian will attest to the fact that lesbian kisses are usually, if not always, heated and burning. Di ba? 🙂 I mean, really, if it isn’t, then how come even men want to see it? 😉 But the shots were really nice, I’d have to say. I liked the shots of their hands, caressing each other, stroking the nape, pulling the hair. Another highlight is the morning after scene where Juliet wakes up and nuzzles Rome’s neck, eliciting a smile to form on Rome’s face. It was so natural and real for me, like it was taken from my own memory. 🙂

Pero bitin yung kissing scene. Nasaan yung love scene??? To the producers and director, was the version shown in Robinson’s Galleria a cut version? Because if it was, that’s just too bad. You could’ve beaten the other films in sales if you didn’t! 😀

The movie was truly too long to sit through, but thank God for Mylene Dizon, it wasn’t hell to endure. There were unecessary scenes that would have been better repleced by more substantial scenes that would establish how the friendship developed into a blossoming romance, the heterosexuality was too much impressed upon the audience with too many scenes of the boyfriend/lover/fiance-girl, scenes that would have been better shorter (KISS! Keep It Simple Stupid). Lastly, the ending could’ve been reworked. Think out of the box, naman. SPOILER UP AHEAD!!! Baka mamaya magpasagasa na lang mga lesbiyana para matanggap ng pamilya. Very dramatic, we Pinoys are pa naman.

It tackled too many lesbian issues in one movie. Was the film about exploring one’s sexuality? Was it about coming out? Perhaps it was a story in finding The One, regardless of gender? Or was it about society’s acceptance? Or an individual’s acceptance of the ever-changing sexual continuum? Was it about familial ties and the consequences of being gay/coming out? Or was it simply to take the curious audience into a glimpse, a tour of how a lesbian sometimes comes (Excuse the pun.) to be one. Too many, too much.

Perhaps the fear of not having a second chance to explore this arena once more loomed on the producers?

For movies such as these, it really is best not to have high expectations. But to take a risk and for someone who isn’t gay to take a chance in producing something like this has some merit.

Overall, the film was entertaining. Despite the fact that it was a copycat film with a few differences to make it seemingly distinct, I’m pretty sure people who saw it enjoyed it. It got its laughter where it was due, gasps and oohs where it was expected, and tears where it was asked for.

But most importantly, it dealt with a reality that lesbians like myself have longed to see on the big commercial screen.

Personally, I learned to appreciate — even love, for a moment, Mylene Dizon for her sensitivity and cinematic allure — and most especially her fabulous, oh-I-want-that/that-will-look-good-on-me wardrobe. If you can hook me up with her to go shopping, I’d give this film five stars and even offer my time to help tweak it better. 😉

On a more personal note, I’m again saddened a bit by the fact that the first (kindly call my attention as I may be mistaken) commercial lesbian film was not made by a lesbian herself. The producer, writer and director isn’t a lesbian, right? And yet, she made it pa din. For that a big thank you Direk Connie. For the lesbian filmmakers out there, take this as a challenge! Speak up! Tell your story to the Filipino viewer. It’s about time.
Labels: reviews


The L Word Manila said…
Hey Ceia. Isdatchu? Well anyway, I was pointed here by a blogger. Thank you for the review; despite the fact I was incapacitated last weekend, I’d still want to see this film someday.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2006 7:17:00 PM PHT
Connie M. said…
thank you for all your well-meant comments.

the story behind rome & juliet was mounted within only a month and a week to its premiere night (compared to the the other 6 films in the cinema 1 competition who had at least a minimun of 3 months to work on it). funny, though i’m not a lesbian—i got discriminated BIG TIME while doing the film.

the theme isn’t something anyone can easily accept/understand as real thus the script got held up for a looong time creating a domino effect on the whole production sched. it got its final approval just about the third week of october, the budget released a week after that and film grind a few days later. i have been researching since feb, became an official entry to the film fest by april—but why get the final approval almost a month before screening with minimal changes in the screenplay that has been submitted since mid-august? good thing basically everything has been planned BUT the editing/sound needs at least 2 stressful weeks to do if u really want to stretch it. the shoot took almost 10 days with a short lull bec of the nov holidays. final shoot day was 9 days before screening.

not an excuse but what you have seen during the premiere night wasn’t how i fully intended it to be. a few days after the final shoot, our xdeal post house accepted a paying client and unprofessionally disregarded any of our agreed deadlines (bec we are not paying clients.) to cut the looong S.o.a.B.’s story (amongst this one), there were good souls who helped us put it together within 6 days.

people who do not know each other but believed in the project and the materials with super minimal honorarium. i already felt like giving up, advised the cinema one group that there is an 80% possibility of not making it (and it’s their decision anyways that brought us into this damned situation).

it’s suicide to put together a full feature within 5-6 days (even if you have the money and a big pool of experienced talents to work on it 24/7). with prayers and lots of words of encouragement from people who believed in us–we were able to pull it through.our frame of mind was giving our BEST EFFORTs considering we were running against hours NOT days. pressure from people who are expecting to see the film, co-directors telling me that this is the only film they are waiting to see in the festival. whew!

i don’t know any production group who has gone through the same shit we did for a month/1 week that pulled through? thanks to all the brave good souls who took a chance with us.

this film is basically a one-woman team project (when u have a minimal budget of P690,000–u just have to be play multiple roles.) but with my support group–anything is NOW possible.

my vision is to create an indie-type-concept-wise digital film that can crossover to mainstream viewers (and not solely the lesbian market.) it also saddened me to share it to all of you in this premature form. to see the potential but not the actual fruition of the vision.

sunday showing is a lot tighter than the premiere since i had another spare day to tighten the scenes and choose shots. given a few more days, u would have seen a totally different rome & juliet (as you soon will at the UP/CCP Theaters). edited to its original intended running time of 120 minutes, better quality audio/music, chosen shots–who knows? you just might have a different take on the film.

i appreciate your blog 🙂 thus i’m writing to you. in everything that we do, in any circumstance we are in –we can’t definitely please everybody. But there will be at least a few… who will. thank you for supporting us.
Anonymous said…
With all you views about this movie it seems that I really want to see it for myself. I’m some kinda interested and curious on how two straight girls fell in love with each other. Nangyari ba ito in just a snap of a finger or what? Would you know kung kelan sya ipapalabas sa mga sinehan? Besides sa premiere night nya. May possibility pa kayang ipalabas sya sa sinehan ngayon? Hope to hear your feedback. Thanks!
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2006 10:49:00 AM PHT
merrie said…
where can we watch this film kaya? it’s not in cinemas na right? or is it still? baka u guys have video or something.. we’re really interested in seeing this film…
THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2007 10:46:00 AM PHT

<< Home


5 Responses to “IMO: “Rome & Juliet” (Reposted)”

  1. Hello! I just want to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice
    data you’ve gotten right here on this post. I will likely be coming again to
    your blog for extra soon.

  2. It is actually a great and useful piece of info.

    I am happy that you just shared this helpful information with us.
    Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Howdy just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

  4. Hi, all the time i used to check blog posts here in the early hours in the break of day, because i enjoy to gain knowledge of more and more.

  5. Hello! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to look it over.

    I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be
    tweeting this to my followers! Wonderful blog and brilliant design.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: