Netflix review: Alessandra de Rossi makes remarkable directorial debut in 'My Amanda'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Jul 15 2021 08:46 AM

Netflix review: Alessandra de Rossi makes remarkable directorial debut in 'My Amanda' 1
Piolo Pascual and Alessandra de Rossi in 'My Amanda.' Handout

Even if they called each other silly pet names like Fuffy and Fream, TJ (Piolo Pascual) and Amanda (Alessandra de Rossi) had a close friendship which had remained platonic for all these years. They enjoyed lazy nights just lounging together on a hammock looking up at the stars, talking about their wacky experiences together. They had their respective romantic relationships with other people, but they remained each other's constants in their lives. 

"My Amanda" began with a sci-fi feel as the screen was awash in bright twinkling stars, those in the sky above TJ and Amanda the night before she was about to take a major step in her life. This was the first of many conversations between them that we will be listening in on. TJ's voice would be heard as he shared his thoughts about Amanda and their unique friendship -- perhaps excerpts from the book Amanda wanted him to write about them. 

Unlike the dour and serious characters he had in most of his previous films, Piolo Pascual was uncharacteristically loose and light-hearted in this role as TJ. Here he was always with a naughty smile as he joked about Amanda's lack of friends, breasts or singing talent. Whenever Amanda teased him about taking their friendship a level further, TJ always had a quick, witty comeback retort to dash her hopes. 

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Alessandra de Rossi did not only play the lead character Amanda, she also wrote the original screenplay, was one of the co-producers, and most remarkably, this was her directorial debut. You can sense Alessandra's fingerprints all over this film, with all her quirkiness seen in the humor and language of the script, the choice of songs (Chaka Khna's "Through the Fire"), or the hamster Pancho that TJ had as a pet. 

TJ and Amanda were only friends in this film and not lovers, so romantic chemistry between the two leads is not really a must. A close friendship between two people with an 8-year age gap may not be that realistic in real life, but Pascual and de Rossi were clearly comfortable in their cheerful banter, and this registered very well onscreen. The movie may be quite talky, but de Rossi skillfully kept the mood so enigmatic, you'd follow it all the way to the end.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."