A film review by Raymond Lumagsao

Let’s cut to the chase. Antoinette Jadaone’s brand new creation “Fan Girl”, also among entries for the Metro Manila Film Festival this year, is more than Paulo Avelino’s frontal nudity scene. 

PHOTO: Scoutmag.ph

There are heavy aspects to unpack after watching the film but for the most part, idolatry as its main course has not been confined in such lame focus. The coverage of Jadaone’s lens in writing and directing a coming of age story that is daring, disturbing yet true to the core, is not completely a surprise but only a dynamic of her wide craft mastery. 

Jane (Charlie Dizon), 16, is a die-hard fan of Paulo Avelino played by himself. In her desperate desire to exclusively meet her most admired idol, she ended up sneaking behind the actor’s pickup truck following a wrapped up mall show for a movie promotion. Hidden under posters and fans’ presents, Jane successfully concealed herself without Avelino noticing initially. Joining the actor returning to home, Jane gradually discovered Avelino to be completely different from the characters he had portrayed on-screen. The real-life idol apparently curses hardcore, appeared to be a cigar and liquor-maniac and worse, under the influence of abused drugs. 

Despite red flags, Jane’s obsession did not stop her from crashing through the closed gate leading to the empty home of Avelino. This time, Avelino caught the fan lurking behind the staircase, and to the actor’s surprise he tried to catch Jane in fear of exposing her discovery in public. Jane’s fearing Avelino’s hysterical reaction, she immediately flew from the house attempting to run away from the scene. Unable to navigate the road back as darkness governed the night, Jane had been left with no other option but to hide herself again at the back of Avelino’s pickup truck.

As they proceeded to another road trip, Avelino later figured out Jane’s presence who defended herself to be a fan, and not a burglar. Successfully answering Avelino’s questions, Jane eventually convinced the actor to which she ended up joining him in the front seat. The obsession of Jane has come into life as they spent the night together with bottle of beers and raw conversation consciously consuming their sanity. On this note, Jane had no idea that meeting Avelino will alter her being in the most drastic manner possible. 

Known for her ostensibly titular romantically-charged hit films “That Thing Called Tadhana”, “Im Drunk, I Love You”, and “Never lot Love You”, Jadaone switched the cards and this time aimed for a daring, uncomfortable storytelling that calls out both the entertainment industry and the misogynistic political worshipping as a whole. Objectictifying women is seen almost normalized and perpetuated by men in power. For Jadaone to fearlessly materialize the struggle through a masterpiece huge of an audience is potentially reached, the advocacy is empowered more so.

Casting newcomer Charlie Dizon could have been a risk, to note the reliable acting of Paulo Avelino from his critically acclaimed film “Goyo”. Surprisingly, Dizon appeared to have been unfazed by the established actor that Avelino has become. Her powerful performance contributes even more effectively to transmit to the audience the elemental themes fear and bravery, pity and outrage, rallying advocacies all-encompassing to liberating women from history-long traces of abuse. Meanwhile, the portrayal of Avelino which involved unreserved full-on patriarchal spectacle is reflective to how demanding the entertainment industry can be that actors are shaped to be the persons they are not to meet the norms, and to be a money-generating brand.

The symbolism that was utilized in the film echoes the political weather in the country whose primary victims include the sector of women. Jadaone did not hesitate to limit her material from the perspective of a minimum fan girl. Apparently, it boldly calls out political worshipping that even human rights are put aside for it to be fed fully. 

The powerful ending that Jadaone had resorted should not only challenge the system, but should also strengthen women to stand up against forces that view men as a superior group. “Fan Girl” is definitely a material not everyone will easily grasp. Art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed, as we are perennially reminded. “Fan Girl” is charged with unflinching dialogues, unconventional cuts and beautifully dreadful plot; these aspects, all at once, gives birth to a masterpiece that unchains women from the societal cancer that is misogyny.