5 on-screen pairings we want to see after ‘Hello, Love, Goodbye’

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What about a love triangle between James Reid, Liza Soberano, and Daniel Padilla (JaLizNiel?) where, in a role reversal, the two boys play awkward dorks in love with a bad girl? Illustration by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — While it’s too early to call whether we’re living in the epoch of a post-love team era, it must be said that Philippine cinema has an interesting last few months.

After half a decade of romantic comedies mostly headlined by big love teams, with millions of fans clustering around these pairings (and sparking the occasional flame war), we’re starting to see these stars explore on-screen narratives outside the pairings that propelled them to stardom.

READ: Inside the world of love team fans

This year alone, we’ve seen Nadine Lustre break out with strong lead performances in Irene Villamor’s “Ulan” and Paul Alexei Basinillo’s “Indak” sans real-life boyfriend and usual screen partner James Reid. Likewise, Julia Barretto starred in Jason Paul Laxamana’s “Between Maybes” across Gerald Anderson after ending her on-screen and off-screen relationship with Joshua Garcia.

The biggest crossover thus far in this post-love team moment has been Kathryn Bernardo and Alden Richards’ on-screen pairing in Cathy Garcia-Molina’s “Hello, Love, Goodbye.” As half of KathNiel and AlDub respectively, the two had already achieved astronomical success, but “Hello, Love, Goodbye” gave us some of their best screen performances to date and has earned Star Cinema over ₱500 million domestically as of this writing. The film is poised to earn even more, standing as a proof of concept, not only that new on-screen pairings are potentially lucrative, but also that they give these actors a chance to explore rich new storylines and present themselves in a new light.

READ: 5 possible plots for the Kathryn-Alden movie that we never saw coming

As I said when we were first speculating what “Hello, Love, Goodbye” could be about, in the timeline we’re living in, anything is possible. Even the most hardcore fans are becoming more willing to look past established love team when appreciating film narratives. With that in mind — and a prayer that I don’t get flamed — here are five brand new on-screen pairings for your consideration.

Screwball Sweethearts: Carlo Aquino and Maine Mendoza

Pairing Name: CarMaine

Why It Works: These two actors have an incredible knack for being incredibly sweet and goofy on camera, so why not put those energies against one another in a rollickingly funny screwball comedy?

There’s so much potential for both kulit and kilig the moment you put Maine and Carlo in the same setup (think the comedic and romantic chemistry between Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in “Bringing Up Baby”). The two could begin as enemies and, through a series of wild antics, come to reluctantly fall in love with each other.

The screwball genre is marked by this tongue-in-cheek look at traditional romance in cinema, and with Carlo’s good-natured charm and Maine’s willingness to be silly at every turn, the two could carry this beautifully.

‘19 Thelma & Louise: Kathryn Bernardo and Nadine Lustre

Pairing Name: LustBern

Why It Works: Every generation needs its greatest actresses to square off in a film. Whether it’s Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in “What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?” or Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos in “Ikaw Ay Akin” and “T-Bird at Ako,” it provides an electric moment in cinema where the on-screen talents of two women finally meet.

After carving out a space as two of our generation’s strongest performers, what sort of film could Nadine and Kathryn make together? It doesn’t have to be romantic (or totally could be; it’s 2019, guys) but I imagine a “Thelma & Louise”-type road film with two girls against a world where patriarchal injustice reigns. There could even be a heist! Think of the wigs and the disguises!

I think we’re ready for a film to bring together these often disparate fanbases in support of two strong women. In the brave words of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, war is over (if you want it).

Growing Up: Julia Barretto and Enrique Gil

Pairing Name: JuRique

Why It Works: In Julia’s and Enrique’s most recent films (“Between Maybes” and “Alone/Together” respectively), these two actors proved they were fully capable of taking on grown-up narratives.

An interesting angle to take would be to put them together in a millennial working-class narrative that speaks to the way love and life works for 20-somethings today. They could play two fresh grads who end up at the same office and, through sharing the struggle of working in corporate Manila, fall in love and learn to make sense of their future together.

Given that they’re two of the most underrated performers of their generation, it would be a fantastic play of their skills and a chance to see the pair dive into even more mature territory.

Bad Boys Gone Good: Daniel Padilla, James Reid, and Liza Soberano

Pairing Name: JaLizNiel

Why It Works: Hear me out. James and Daniel have built their careers playing bad boys who, through reckless charm and possession of a motorcycle, win over the good girl. Liza most often finds herself playing industrious, strait-laced young women. What if we reversed the roles?

Imagine James and Daniel playing these dorky, awkward young men hyperventilating every time they see bad bitch Liza (in dark lipstick and a leather skirt) riding her Harley? The two desperately make pa-cool for her affection even as she insists she doesn’t need a man.

All three of them have proven to be strong enough actors to pull this off, but more importantly, we’ll keep fans guessing until the end which one she ends up with or if she rides off alone into the sunset, leaving the boys in the dust.

Coming of Age: Maymay Entrata and Joshua Garcia

Pairing Name: MayHua, JoshMay

Why It Works: We need more tender indie youth films to document the stories of a generation. Imagine an A24-style coming-of-age tale with these two young, talented actors giving magical performances of wide-eyed wonder.

The setting can be the senior year of high school where an unexpected romance blossoms between straight-A student Maymay and new transferee Joshua. The film shows them navigating the cusp of adulthood as well as their tender feelings for each other.

The film has the potential to be funny, sweet, and visually stunning, and the fresh pairing could give these two actors new dimensions to show us on screen.