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‘My Amanda’ review: ‘When Harry Met Sally’ but not really

Sometimes Amanda and TJ, the characters that Alessandra de Rossi and Piolo Pascual play in the movie "My Amanda", can be very annoying. Image credit: Netflix
Amanda (Alessandra de Rossi) and TJ (Piolo Pascual) get tattoos. Image credit: Netflix

Sometimes Amanda and TJ, the characters that Alessandra de Rossi and Piolo Pascual play in the movie “My Amanda”, can be very annoying. But that’s actually what makes the story of their friendship even more compelling. Two imperfect people who seem perfect for each other and make each other better persons, but who seem happy with just being friends. Maybe more than friends, but less than lovers.

“My Amanda” is a refreshing change from the rom-com stereotypes, particularly in Philippine movies. Amanda isn’t the demure girl next door. TJ isn’t the clean-cut boy next door. This movie written and directed by De Rossi, which is now streaming globally on Netflix, basically asks the same question posed by “When Harry Met Sally…”: “Can men and women ever just be friends?” And verbalizes the premise of the movie, as well as the origins of their pet names Fuffy (TJ) and Fream (Amanda), in, of all places, a tattoo shop. Spoilers ahead, if you haven’t watched “My Amanda”.

The ballad of Fuffy and Fream

So while Fream is getting a tattoo, the tattoo artist tells her and Fuffy: “Bagay naman kayong dalawa, a. Bakit hindi na lang kayo (You two look good together. Why not become a couple)?

“Aww, I’ve answered this question so many times. It’s so personal. ‘Yung (The) relationship na meron kami (that we have), sana (I hope) I can end up with someone like him,” Fream tells the tattoo artist, whose name is Jeff.

Then she tells Fuffy: “‘Yung parang ikaw pero hindi ikaw (Someone like you but not you).”

Parang ako pero hindi ako (Like me but not me),” Fuffy says.

Talaga namang ikaw pero hindi ikaw (Definitely you but not you),” she says.

After this bickering continues, Fream tells Jeff: “He’s the brother I’ve never had.”

“I’m the brother you’ve always had,” Fuffy tells Fream.

Jeff then tells them that he gets it: “Alam ninyo, ganyan din kami ng best friend ko, e. Pero alam mo ‘yun, di ko siya kayang landiin, e. Hindi ako nalilibugan, e. Nangingilo ako kapag naiisip ko (You know, that’s just like me and my best friend. I can’t think about her in a sexual way. I don’t get horny. It makes me uncomfortable just thinking about it).”

Fream laughs and says: “Oo, grabe kasi, di ba? Pwede namang magkaibigan ang babae at lalake na hindi sila na-i-in-love sa isa’t isa. Kami naniniwala kami doon (Yeah, it’s crazy, right? A man and woman can become friends without having to fall in love with each other. The two of us believe in that).”

Friends will be friends

“My Amanda” reminds us that friendship is about accepting people for who they are and taking the good with the bad, while being there for them when they make mistakes, suffer heartaches, and experience failures. Sure, sometimes it can be frustrating if they don’t heed our advice and insist on doing something stupid, but we have to let them live their own lives. And then resist the urge to tell them “I told you so” when they seek comfort.

In the case of Fuffy and Fream, though, they have a special friendship — an unusually close one that makes people think they’re in a romantic relationship and even a married couple. And it’s also what you might call a Tom and Jerry relationship. These are two friends who relentlessly tease and insult each other — friendly bickering, sure, but only because they’re so close to each other and are used to this kind of putdowns. Some people might find their kind of banter hurtful, actually, and in some instances they do go too far, causing the other person to feel pain.

This movie is De Rossi’s directorial debut and is based on her real-life friendships with men. In fact, TJ is the name of her actual best male friend. And the pet names Fuffy and Fream are the ones De Rossi actually uses with the real-life TJ. Though not based on their real-life relationship, this movie, however, was inspired by the dynamics of De Rossi’s friendship with TJ.

“My Amanda” won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I believe it’s a thought-provoking story. Your appreciation of this movie will hinge a lot on whether or not you will like Amanda.

An unconventional woman with an unusual friendship. This is her story.

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