Romantic comedy films follow an unwritten rule in casting the most beautiful and famous actors in the land and pairing them up in the likes of Sarah Geronimo and John Lloyd Cruz, Jennylyn Mercado and Jericho Rosales, and Judy Ann Santos and Piolo Pascual. The formula—believed to make audiences fall in love—almost always churns out a blockbuster. But times are changing. Millennials who make up the bigger share of the movie market today prefer a different take on the idea of falling in love. A real deal romance with far from perfect lead characters.
The creative minds behind maverick production company Spring Films—spearheaded by award-winning director Joyce Bernal, Erickson Raymundo and top actor Piolo Pascual himself—understands this new cinematic taste and has happily yielded to it with a movie that will surely break norms and even set off a different trend in the rom-com genre.
Touching and innovative, the film is entitled “Kita Kita,” starring multi-awarded dramatic actress Alessandra de Rossi and rising comedic star Empoy Marquez. Believe it or not, the seemingly odd pairing is now the talk of social media—with the trailer hitting 6.4 million views in Facebook as of writing—and generally with positive feedback.
“Coming up with this concept of putting together an unlikely couple began with one of our co-producers, Lucky Blanco. He said why don’t we make a rom-com about a guy who isn’t so good-looking and shoot it in a beautiful place. So, Lucky met with Director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo and found out she had a great story to tell,” Bernal related at Kita Kita’s press conference on June 27.
“Before we give a project a green light, we look at the first draft and if we see that it’s interesting, we look at the next. Here, we saw the script just one time, and we were OK with it already. It was that fast. And then when we saw the whole film… I can say that this is the project we can all be proud of,” she expounded.
In the movie, Marquez and de Rossi fall in love with Hokkaido, Japan. Based on the teaser, de Rossi portrays a blind woman under the care of Marquez. She falls in love with him without knowing how he looks. A thrilling romance ensues only for de Rossi’s eyesight to return. How would she feel when she sees the man she fell in love with?
Now labelled Alempoy [a portmanteau of Alessandra and Empoy]from the success of the movie’s trailer alone, the unlikely pairing appears to have the prerequisite chemistry for rom-com leads. As such, it made sense from the start that the producers were banking on de Rossi’s acting prowess and Marquez’ natural comedic charm to come up with this perfect new formula.
“I wanted a movie that focuses on the perception of falling in love even if you don’t see the person. This was just an experiment before. [As a sub-plot] this story is also about overseas Filipino workers but one that isn’t about their work or need for money, but the true story all the same about the reality that OFWs also fall in love as they go about their lives far away from home,” Bernardo shared.
“It is given that Alessandra is a good actress, but I also have to say that in this movie, Empoy is a discovery. He is not only good in doing comedies, but I saw here that he has a heart for acting. He is one person you’ll surely fall in love with. In this movie, you will no longer see his physical attributes, and that’s what we wanted to show and prove. Some movies talk about love at first sight—here, it’s love with no sight,” the director added.
Speaking honestly, Marquez said that despite the fact it would be a great opportunity to work with de Rossi as his leading lady, he still wanted to find out the rationale of the story line. Once he realized its potential, just as de Rossi did, he was a hundred percent on board.
“I was so touched when I knew that I’d have a movie with Empoy. This is my first romantic comedy and he’s my leading man, so I cried! Not tears of joy though,” de Rossi joked.
“We’re always used to love teams that are Papa P [Piolo] levels, but is he the only one allowed to fall in love in movie?” the actress chuckled again.
Turning more serious, she added, “But we were really impressed with Empoy’s acting in this project—he really gave his all.”
The man of the moment on the other hand was still in disbelief that he landed a lead role.
“This is my first time to lead in a movie and I am so flattered because Alessandra has a lot of acting awards already. And of all the comedians in showbiz, I was the one they asked to star in the film, so I am really, really happy,” Marquez shared.
With the commercial showing of Kita Kita set on July 19 nationwide, the producers are already in talks about sending the film to Aichi International Women’s Film Festival in September. That’s how much they believe in the power of breaking traditional love teams in this age of millennials.