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Direk Antoinette Jadaone’s Fan Girl is a story of escapism. Fangirls cling to their idols to escape their unfortunate realities. Like in the movies, they have backstories too. They draw comfort from their idol’s presence. Too often they look at their bias as a cure more than a joy booster. Fangirling becomes therapeutic but somehow addictive. But beyond the story of escapism, this movie carries an underlying socio-political arc that pretty much stunned me: violence against women.

Let me just lodge on the final scene as it’s the most important and strongest scene in the movie. For me, it’s where Jane’s (Charlie Dizon) story begins — — facing her real-life battles as she fights against abuse in the absence of the reverie she used to live in.

In the final scene, Jane comes home to her reality: a problematic mom who devotes herself to an abusive partner. When this awful reality welcomes her home, she looks at Paulo Avelino’s posters on her wall, but after meeting her ‘hero’, she finds no comfort in Paulo Avelino anymore. The thought (or pictures) of Paulo only flared up her wrath. What was once her dwelling place to escape becomes a depressing reminder that only amplifies her misery. What to do when your idol’s real-life story happens to mirror the depressing part of your reality? There’s a lot of sh** show behind the camera. And that's why — — never meet your heroes.

Accepting this offbeat project with a newbie as a leading lady says a lot about Paulo Avelino. I love him as a heartthrob in OTWOL and I’m Drunk I Love You. But I love him as an actor in Goyo and Fan Girl. There are scenes when I feel like I have a sneak peek of Paulo Avelino’s struggles as an actor. Portraying this role looks easy for him maybe because the script hits close to home.

Finally. Of course. Why would I forget the woman of the hour: Charlie Dizon. It’s so refreshing to see a new face taking over our screens. Charlie taking on the challenge as Direk Tonet’s muse in her first erotic venture is so telling of her vision as an actress. The script is for her. If there’s one great thing that the film did, it’s discovering a brilliant talent like Charlie Dizon. She aced all the nuances of a fangirl and she’s not afraid to deglamorize herself. Ako ang napagod sa pag-akyat-panaaog niya sa gate. Hindi siya nagpalamon. Sinabayan niya si Paolo. Hinigitan niya, actually. At some point, I thought that she’s been in the industry for so long.

Charlie Dizon’s career path shows that one doesn’t need a loveteam to get her name on the map. You need good material. You need to love your craft. Talent wins over formula. I bet no one in her age or no one from the A-lister-actresses could ever do what she just did.

I spot her potential already when I saw her in Seven Sundays. I liked her as the young Teddie in Four Sisters Before the Wedding (though I have issues with the similarity of her voice and Toni G’s voice). But ‘Jane The Fan Girl’ has turned me into a Charlie Dizon stan. This young actress deserves a follow. I am excited for her.

Congratulations, Direk Tonet, Paulo, and Charlie!

#BagongSineNa Watch Fan Girl (and other MMFF entries) here on Upstream: https://upstream.ph/

Hallyu Headspace, mostly BTS 💜