Awkward first encounters, cutesy conversation bubbles, corny pick-up lines delivered endearingly, and random discussions about multiple universes over coffee dates – that’s essentially what makes up FindHer sound like a weird mix for a romantic comedy, don’t you think.
But it works wonders for Smart Telecommunications first-ever venture into the world of web series.
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FindHer talks about people trying to find each other across parallel universes. The central plot is already interesting as it is, but there is obviously more in this 7-part web series that can potentially excite audiences.
In the series, Aika (Dionne Monsanto) and Lia (Bie Ruaro) are best friends who vow to avenge all women who got cheated on and fooled by men on the popular dating app, Finder. They embark, one day, to pull a prank on every man on the app (with whom they are matched), by not showing up on dates they are supposed to meet the guys.
The entire first episode nearly only chronicles the girls trying to trick all who they call, the “pa-cool” guys, that if I were to be honest, I’d say, it’s not a good way to kick off a romance series, at all. Take note that it runs only for 10-13 mins, per episode, that it can really be a hassle to squeeze all the juicy proceedings under such strict time constraint, without the risk of losing the audience’s attention.
In the first episode, we see two women desperately trying to be all women’s saviors from men who fool women online. It paints a not-so-appealing picture, if I were to be asked, but come the next episodes and there may be some valid explanations to be served, after all.
FindHer pulls off its first “real” surprise in the second episode when it (somehow) confirms that its characters are living in different parallel universes. If you are a fan of the popular and critically-acclaimed Japanese anime movie, Kimi No Nawa (Your Name), it will be difficult to miss the cunning similarity between the two works–thematically speaking, I mean.
Of course, FindHer won’t wade too deep into the “multiple universes” pool, but it makes few ripples on the surface, enough to ignite interest.
Director Victor Kaiba Villanueva, who was at the helm of the Visayan-language film, ‘Patay Na Si Hesus,’ employs some interesting choices to make FindHer work, the most notable of which is his choice to not engage the characters in lengthy dialogues that may potentially bore viewers. He uses (sort-of) conversational bubbles, instead, to convey the kilig-infused correspondences among his story’s main characters, Gabe (Vance Larena), Aiko, and Lia.
The use of such device, along with other similar narrative choices, helps the narrative skip the challenges of a problematic pacing, which is inevitably presented by the show’s limited running time. Villanueva manages to come up with brisk-paced episodes, without giving the audience a reason to think they’re practically just following a series of TV ads that does not contain any substance, at all. Because FindHer, to Villanueva’s credit does.
Scratching a little deeper into the story, you’ll see that there is actually more. Of course, it may be easier to get convinced this is just another way of luring consumers into subscribing to SMART, or PLDT (I mean, let’s be honest), but there are still genuine motivations in this campaign, that merit the audience’s attention.
FindHer, eventually hits close to home, when it tackles how our choices, when it comes to love and romance, are being shaped by dating apps, gadgets–technology, in a broader sense. It asks the question “is finding the one online, possible?”, and seamlessly integrates it with the crazy idea of parallel worlds, that in spite of time constraints, it nonetheless manages to deliver a fast-paced romance which viewers can still relate to.
Villanueva has to thank his lead actors for pulling off their characters impressively. Vance Larena, who is more popular in playing roles in several indie films, is more noticeable with his incredibly natural take on Gabe. I literally feel he isn’t acting at all, judging how spontaneous Gabe’s nuances are–which, by the way, are not easy to pull off, given the restrictions I mentioned above.
Unlike in movies, Villanueva has a smaller space wherein to explore the possibilities of spicing up FindHer with non-conventional takes. In ‘Patay na Si Hesus,’ he was given enough opportunity to embed his brand of vulgar and physical humor into the narrative; he spends no evident effort to do the same in FindHer, which to be fair, isn’t really wise (I mean, come on, let’s stop being silly).
What he does here is create subtle comedic moments that are still potent enough to elicit giggles. One instance I can vividly remember, is the one at a coffee shop where Gabe invited Lia to take a seat with her dog, saying dogs are allowed to sit with them, and one of Gabe’s friends agreed and said “ako nga andito eh”.
Still, we are dimly knowledgeable as to which direction this story is really headed. Two more episodes are to be dropped, and while most of the audiences may have already decided about whom they think Gabe should end up with, there are still a lot of possibilities that can happen, hence, the idea of parallel universes.
Those last two episodes can not, in anyway, disappoint us.
FindHer is now available for streaming on SMART Communications Youtube Channel. The final two episodes arrive on Valentine’s Day