In Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s latest film, Raffy (JC Santos) and Gela (Ryza Cenon) travel by their lonesome to Palawan hoping to heal their respective emotional wounds.
Prior to their arrival in the island, they never met each other but are mistaken for a married couple since they both have the same last names. Because of this intriguing coincidence, they find themselves gradually drawn to each other.
Aside from the fact that Raffy and Gela are not really the “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz” that most people they encounter in Palawan believe they are, Direk Sigrid is aware that her decision to make her lead characters as solo backpackers is something that audiences may find equally fascinating.
While traveling alone is not something that not a lot of people have done or even tried, it is something that the acclaimed filmmaker strongly recommends.
“I want to encourage everyone to travel alone because it makes you stronger and braver. You don’t need someone to be with you when you travel. When you travel alone, you’ll hear your own voice and your own feelings. Everyone deserves his or her own alone time to clear their minds,” Direk Sigrid told InterAksyon in a recent interview.
Of course, there are no guarantees that you will meet folks as physically attractive as JC and Ryza. But there is a good chance you’ll encounter people with stories that are as interesting as their characters in the film, as Direk Sigrid herself can attest.
“My characters are inspired by my experiences of people that I meet. My friends and family are usually the basis for my characters, but sometimes I inject myself in the characters that I create,” she shared.
Since it opened last January 24, “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz” has been well-received by critics and audiences who regard this charming romantic comedy-drama as a worthy follow-up to Direk Sigrid’s 2017 sleeper hit, “Kita Kita.”
Sigrid admits that while “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz” and “Kita Kita” are similar in some ways, they are also not without their own marked differences.
“Both films are set outside Manila and they both center on two main characters with minimal interaction with the other characters. But compared to ‘Kita Kita,’ ‘Mr and Mrs Cruz’ is more realistic, grounded and more mature. In ‘Mr. and Mrs. Cruz,’ we see two people running away from their respective traumatic experiences. In ‘Kita Kita,’ the two lead characters are coming to terms with their own misfortunes,” she pointed out.
The director added that her two lead stars, JC and Ryza are also actors with different attributes compared to Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy Marquez of “Kita Kita.”
“I’ve known JC Santos from theater. We studied in the same college and we’re both products of Dulaang UP. I’ve seen some of his films and I saw his potential of becoming a great star. What I like about JC is that, since he is from theater, he knows my process and that’s why it’s easier for us to work together. He was very passionate, very eager to attend the workshops, does not take criticism personally and always strives to become better.”
“As for Ryza, her character is very different from her real persona. Ryza is quiet, shy and very soft spoken. But the character requires her to be a strong woman, full of wit and maturity. She knows that the character is not her, so I told her that it’s going to be hard because she will need to do a lot of research and attend the workshops. She’s committed to her work and even gave up some personal trips to attend the workshop.”
In addition to its leads, “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz” also feature Bong Cabrera and Sophie Rankin as a newlywed couple and Dido dela Paz and Lui Manansala as a senior couple who are also in the same island tour as Raffy and Gela.
“I also wanted to show the contrasts between a newlywed couple and a senior couple. But not only in terms of their age differences but also in the different stages of the relationships they were in at that point,” Direk Sigrid explained.
Like the filming of “Kita Kita” in Japan, shooting “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz” in Palawan also has its share of challenges for the cast and crew.
“It was hard because we had to plan everything thoroughly. It was very difficult transporting the equipment to each location and we had to schedule the scenes so that we didn’t get stranded in the middle of the ocean when high tide came as experienced during the shoot,” Direk Sigrid revealed.
“Despite all the difficulty, we would always find time to relieve stress. Since we didn’t have time to go to the bars at night because of the early call time, we always had a dance showdown in the middle of the ocean. Whenever we transferred from one island to another, the moment our boats met, we would play the music loudly in our speakers and danced all the way to the location.”
Produced by Viva Films and The Idea First Company, “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz” is now showing in cinemas nationwide and also stars Dennis Padilla and Yayo Aguila.