MMFF review: Fantasy turns into a real nightmare in 'Fan Girl'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Dec 26 2020 09:35 AM | Updated as of Dec 27 2020 12:45 AM

MMFF review: Fantasy turns into a real nightmare in 'Fan Girl' 1
'Fan Girl' stars Paulo Avelino and promising new actress Charlie Dizon. The movie tackles the theme of unhealthy obsession. Black Sheep

Most Hollywood films about obsessed fans like "The Fan" (1981) to "Misery" (1991) have the fan turn psycho against the object of their idolatry. The opposite seems to be true among Filipino films about such fans. In Lino Brocka's "Bona" (1980), the titular Bona (Nora Aunor) was willing to become the personal slave of her idol, movie bit player Gardo (Phillip Salvador). Antoinette Jadaone's "Fan Girl" (2020) is more of Bona's kindred spirit.

Jane (Charlie Dizon) was a 16-year-old high school student who was an obsessed fan of movie star Paulo Avelino (Paulo Avelino). She knew every little detail about his biography and career, and she was proud of it. She admired his good looks, his acting talent (like how he could shed tears on cue, or how he could thrill his fans in romantic scenes).

After one mall show where Paulo and screen partner Bea Alonzo promoted their latest film, Jane had the impulsive idea to stow away at the back of Paulo's pickup truck, not expecting that he would be driving out of town to an old house in a remote barrio. Her exciting close encounter with her movie idol was about to take a turn she never would have expected.

Charlie Dizon, 24, may be a newcomer in films, but she did not show any nerves in her daring performance here. She was able to pull off the challenge of convincingly playing a street-smart precocious teenage girl, yet still maintaining her character's innocence and vulnerability. This film was the story of Jane's coming of age by way of a tough and traumatic experience of coming to one's senses, and Dizon had our empathy all the way.

Paulo Avelino was gutsy to play an actor with his name, trusting that the viewers will know how to distinguish the rascal Paulo Avelino onscreen from him. As expected of him from his previous roles, Avelino did not hold back from playing an unsavory character and he went all out to play this foul-mouthed drug-addict creep, the total antithesis of his public showbiz persona. Paulo was a despicable character and Avelino made sure that we hated him.

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The title may have suggested a rom-com between a movie idol and his number one fan. Certainly the first few scenes felt that way, being so light and breezy as the camera followed Jane from her school to the mall show into the pickup. En route along the expressway, Paulo took a roadside bathroom break. That naughty scene involving frontal nudity was the first clue that this was not going to be as wholesome as one would initially think it would be.

Rated R-16, this was an uncomfortable film to watch as it dealt with so much inappropriate behavior of a male adult towards a female minor. Writer-director Jadaone delved full-on into disturbing psychological horror as Jane's whimsical fantasy turned into a real nightmare. By calling out abuse of all forms against women, from simple catcalling to outright rape, the film evolved further to be potent statement against misogyny.

"Fan Girl" is nominated for 9 MMFF awards: Picture, Director (Jadaone), Screenplay (Jadaone), Actor (Avelino), Actress (Dizon), Cinematography (Neil Daza), Editing (Benjamin Tolentino), Sound (Vincent Villa) and Musical Score (Teresa Barrozo).

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

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