Musical is a tricky movie genre that either works (The Phantom of the Opera, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, The Westside Story) or it does not (the recent “Cats” is an example). When the latter occurs, we can’t blame actors for not shining in it, but rather hold accountable the director who could not grasp the concept fully. Either way, musical is a genre no one should ever take for granted.
Christine (Haven Everly) is a Filipina-American, who is an exceptionally talented actress, dancer and a singer. Living in L.A. not only helped her to pursue her dream but also land a lead role she dreamt of. All that changes with the passing of her father, that forces to put her dream aside and help her mother keep the family restaurant afloat.
What we do not know in the beginning is the nature of Christine’s relationship with her father and that it was for him she left her hometown. Of course, as a dreamer, she can’t live far from the place that owns her biggest desires and has plenty of opportunities. However, when the heartbreaking news comes through, the young woman must face the biggest dilemma of her life. Luckily, her mother, Mary (Emy Coligado) is very understandable, but is also, unquestionably, in deep mourning as she copes with the loss of her husband and cannot think clearly at that point.
When creditors tell Christine about the debt her father left behind, the young woman is determined to give up the role of her life and stay with her mother. Through the beautiful music and moving performances from the entire cast, this dramedy offers the audience a sublime and truly exciting story that will both make you laugh and cry at the same time. Indeed, Christine and Mary must discover a lot for themselves. They must learn from their ups and downs, think rationally and not let emotions take away their best intentions for themselves. And of course, the future has tremendous opportunities stored for both of them, but will they be emotionally calm to accept it or they will let it go?
Written and directed by Mallorie Ortega, “The Girl Who Left Home” is such a refreshing musical that begs the following question – why won’t Hollywood make a musical with Filipino actors? From start to end, a flawless performance by Haven Everly and supported by Emy Coligado and Paolo Montalban as Tony, the film delivers us the much-needed energy that will charge you for the rest of the day. Lyrics for the songs are to the point while the song itself is much better than the ones you will hear on Billboard.
As for the concept of the film, indeed, it is about family loss, but it’s also about gain, happiness, challenges and what we get from them. It’s about breaking through from ourselves, fighting for what we want to be, following our dreams but not forgetting our immediate family members. Luckily, under the strict supervision of Mallorie Ortega as the writer/director, you will get everything you need from “The Girl Who Left Home” and leave pleased in the end because it does what it needs – it will touch your heart, shake it a bit, and put it back in a better form than it was before.