Image courtesy of Instagram: belapadilla
Main Cast: Bela Padilla
Director: Ivan Andrew Payawal
MTRCB Rating: R-16
I America is a story about the life of half-American Erica Berry (Bela Padilla), a complicated woman born to an ex- prostitute mother (Elizabeth Oropesa) and an American father. Erica represents the struggles of thousands of abandoned half-American children in Olongapo left for good by their fathers. In Erica’s case, she has strongly resolved to find him and her own identity - hook, line and sinker.
The drama comedy film begins with Erica, a part-time model, doing a VTR (video tape recorder) for a tv commercial she is auditioning for in Manila. Thereafter, she boards a bus going home to Olongapo City to a loving woman who is not her mother but a family she calls her own.
Despite her hatred for her biological mother, Erica’s close circle of half-American friends give her much comfort and stability, with one common goal and treating each other like fraternity sisters.
No doubt, Bela played her character well, showing her ease with comedy, too. Erica elicited some laughs every time she converses in English with great difficulty. In other scenes though, director Payawal could have maximized her performance and the story’s potential had his narrative been more convincing and committed. As it turned out, the movie looks disorganized and half-baked, with a smorgasbord of issues going on, thus missing the vital points that it wants to put across.
Cinematographer Carlo Mendoza using a handheld camera shot some of the scenes quite beautifully, but there are several parts, too, that will make the viewer dizzy, obviously due to the unsteady handling of the equipment making them appear blurred. Wonder why this huge lapse was overlooked.
Some of the movie’s scenes struggle to be relevant including some jokes that are too old, corny and painfully redundant. Ditto with several dramatic scenes that are overkill, notably the brawl between Erica and her jealous black sister which are devoid of reason to be justified. There were cringe-worthy reactions, too, especially when Erica learns that her prostitute sister gets pregnant by the man she (Erica) mistakenly thought to be her savior.
Elizabeth Oropesa remains to be an acting giant, definitely credible as an aged, foul-mouthed ex-prostitute who abandoned her daughter early on. Only actors of La Oropesa’s caliber can deliver such crassness and vulgarity with aplomb. Among her memorable scenes are her showdowns with Erica, when she confronts her about her real father and Oropesa responds like a loose cannon, her mouth loaded with filth and obscenities that can only come from a hard core flesh trader.
Overall, I America’s objective is commendable, but disappoints on many points, resulting to an overblown but underwhelming product. Thankfully, the good choice of actors, Bela Padilla and Elizabeth Oropesa, will at least help save the day.
The movie now showing in cinemas, has other stars - Joe Vargas, Julz Savard, Kate Bautista, Lui Manansala, Matt Evans, Raflesia Bravo, Rhyzza Kafilas, Rob Rownd, Sheena Ramos and Thou Reyes.