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“A Very Good Girl” is a revenge story about women, status and money in the Philippines

By Erin Chew

A Very Good Girl is an ambitious dark comedy about revenge among the haves and the have nots. The thriller is directed by Petersen Vargas (2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten, An Inconvenient Love), and stars some of Philippines biggest entertainment superstars – Kathryn Bernardo aka Queen of Philippines cinema (Mara Clara, Princess and I) and Dolly De Leon (Triangle of Sadness, History of Ha) and up and coming superstars Gillian Vincencio (Eerie, 2 Good 2 Be True) and Kaori Oinuma (Pinoy Big Brother: Otso, Love At First Stream).

Known for her roles in Filipino romantic dramas, Bernardo plays a revengeful woman determined to ruin her former employer who fired her under controversial circumstances. Her former employer, played by De Leon is the glamorous retail tycoon known as Mother Molly.

Not her usual style of roles, Bernardo says in a recent press conference that her fans are not used to seeing her play such a dark and vengeful character.

“I specifically asked to get pitched something that is a bit out of the box- either about empowerment or something dark. Funny thing is my fans in the Philippines were surprised because they’re not used to seeing me in roles like this”, Bernardo stated.

Talking about doing something different, the film has a mixture of genres comedy, drama and a mystery/thriller. This is something new and different for a Filipino film. For Vargas having a number of different genres was intentional. As the director, it was a decision to write like this and to show how innovative and campy this new flavor of Filipino films can be.

“It is really a circus plot line, with a mix of genres and that equals a campy, yet crazy film. This type of Filipino film is quite a new concept as it can fit into many categories which provides some social and political commentary with what is happening in the Philippines today”, Vargas discussed.

The film gives off a Crazy Rich Asians vibe, but just with more revenge plots, maintaining ego and pride and a lot of violence. Despite all this, the story line is layered and each of the characters in the film (both main and supporting) kept their own and had the complexity of well rounded characters.

“I think even though there isn’t a clear ‘good and bad women’ characters in the film, if we break it down to the core – this film is about me and is all about women in the Philippines. We all played our characters to the best of our ability and I guess humanizing them made it so audiences won’t demonize just one character”, Vincencio stated.

A woman stares into a faint image of another woman.
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Keeping on the topic of Filipino women, this film may be considered ‘risky’ and ‘controversial’, in that it is female centric and shows Filipino women at different heirarchial and social status levels. A very underrepresented gender in the Philippines in all sectors of society, this film brings women to the forefront. De Leon who has been working in the Filipino film and TV industry for decades concurs with this assessment and speaks about it in a recent press conference,

“It’s definitely a story about women, but I think men should be also interested because it will help them understand women more in a way. In fact, the days of women’s stories being in the shadows are close to over.” 

For Oinuma who is just at the start of her film and TV career in the Philippines, and shares both a Filipino and Japanese heritage, being a part of this film is personal for her as a woman of mixed heritage.

“In my country – the Philippines, women are not seen as equal to men. We are always perceived as one dimensional and not suitable for high and mighty positions in society. As someone who is half Filipino and half Japanese this is even more difficult, so I hope this film will change perceptions”.

A Very Good Girl has already been released in theaters across the US, which was a week earlier than the original release date announcement.

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