Film Notes
by Pablo A. Tariman

Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” comes to mind as one watched the closing credits for the Gino Santos film, “Ex With Benefits.”

Here, Coleen Garcia portrays the role of the controversial medical representative who does everything to clinch a sale.

Coleen Garcia. Out of the blue, the new sexy box office queen.

Coleen Garcia. Out of the blue, the new sexy box office queen.

The initial love scenes with screen boyfriend Derek Ramsey gives the film a vintage romantic look and turns ugly and sinister after the breakup when she makes it with senior physicians just to fill a sales quota required of her boss played with overbearing drive by Carmi Martin.

As it turns out, poor girl in love succumbs to the earthly desire of a school administrator just to save a lover in academic distress. One must say that in this short but fleeting flashback, character actor Mengge Cobarrubias delivers a solid performance.

As the “duty-bound” and good daughter Arkisha, Coleen registers very well as the millennial ‘Lolita’ who does everything in the spirit of fun and in reality — to support a family undergoing difficult times.

As it is, the face is virginal and the body looks pure and unsullied. She exudes a kind of youthful energy that is at once refreshing.

Coleen Garcia with Derek Ramsey in "Ex With Benefits." The result of good film collaboration.

Coleen Garcia with Derek Ramsey in “Ex With Benefits.” The result of good film collaboration.

The extra bonus is that she has the making of a good actress that has yet to be fully tapped but is at once highly promising in this film

On the other hand, Ramsey is a perfect Lothario to the virginal earth goddess of Garcia. His love and obsession shine in its early stage and becomes steady and uncompromising in the end. The actor is at once freewheeling and intense and in the last part of the film, he gives us a no-nonsense passionate portrayal worthy of an award.

Together, the two forge a screen rapport that is real and substantial and without the gimmickry of erstwhile love teams.

Direk Gino Santos succeeds in telling a poignant but jarring story of young love capable of supreme sacrifice.

No doubt about it, Coleen has suddenly become the millennial ‘Lolita” and indeed, she sizzles in this Gino Santos film.

As we write this, the film has grossed more than P100 million at the tills enough for her to get the title as the new sexy box office queen.

“I am overwhelmed and at the same time challenged,” said Coleen in the thank you presscon that made known another follow up project worthy of her newfound box office clout.

The young actress who turns 23 on September 24 said this new chapter in her showbiz career made her come to terms with her priorities. “First, I have to finish my studies and this is a must for me no matter how busy I will be in the coming days. Settling down (with boyfriend Billy Crawford) can still wait. In fairness to him, he is very supportive. Of course he has reasons to be sensitive about my love scenes in the film. But after watching it, he knows that my sexy part is a must in the story. On the other hand, I don’t want to be

Coleen Garcia in swimwear. The new 'Lolita" of the millennial generation?

Coleen Garcia in swimwear. The new ‘Lolita” of the millennial generation?

known as a sexy star. I did those scenes to do justice to the script. I got an idea I did well because my Mom cried after the screening — not because of my bold scenes but because of the touching story. As for my Dad, I told him it is better for him not to watch the film. He has no reason to worry for me because I know my limitations. Nude scenes in future projects? No, I don’t think I am ready for that. For every project, I think it is not asking much if I ask for a good material with a good story. For now, I am thankful for the big break and the chance to show my mettle as an actress. I know it will take some time yet to fully mature as an actress. But I think my latest project is a good introduction and the good audience response is good reason enough to do better with coming roles.”

In closing, the actress added: “I learned the value of collaboration in this film. I am aware I can still improve but for now, I like the learning process as I go along.”

“Ex With Benefits” – a certified blockbuster on its third week – is still showing in some theaters.

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