Liza Soberano hailed as ‘breakout star’ in Hollywood debut

Liza Soberano has been getting rave reviews from American critics for her performance in the Hollywood film “Lisa Frankenstein,” which premiered in Philippines cinemas on Wednesday. 

Directed by Zelda Williams and written by Diablo Cody, the film stars Kathryn Newton in the title role and Cole Sprouse as the undead creature who becomes her companion.

The film itself has mixed reviews so far, but Soberano has been hailed for her role as Taffy, Lisa’s popular cheerleader stepsister. The Fil-Am actor has been called a scene-stealer and superstar by American filmmaker Joe Russo.

Here are the takes of some film critics in the US on Soberano’s acting

LIZA Soberano as Taffy,  Lisa Frankenstein’s popular cheerleader stepsister.

Taylor Gates of Collider: “Soberano is the perfect foil for Newton. She’s been thriving in Filipino cinema for years, and it’s not hard to see why. Her comedic timing and delivery are phenomenal, and she’s able to bring vulnerability and sincerity to every scene, even when the material she has to say would look completely out-of-pocket and callous on paper. 

“The sisterhood between Lisa and Taffy is a highlight of the film, running the gambit from sibling rivalry to forming an unexpected but affecting bond. In lesser hands, Taffy could be a stereotype — a one-dimensional character we’ve seen hundreds of times — but Soberano puts a refreshing spin on her, giving her real depth and scene-stealing moments.”

Katie Walsh of Los Angeles Times: “The breakout star and true discovery of ‘Lisa Frankenstein’ is Soberano, who has a real gift for imbuing Cody’s famously clever and convoluted dialogue with a sincerity that elevates the character beyond an ironic archetype as she morphs from mean teen to scream queen. In fact, Soberano might be too good in the role — she’s so charming and sympathetic that there’s an emotional domino effect that exposes some problems with the script.” 

Valerie Complex, Deadline: “Soberano as Taffy delivers her lines with a humor that, whether by design or by accident, adds a quirky charm to the story. Her portrayal injects a dose of levity, highlighting the film’s campy sensibilities amidst its darker moments.”

Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair: “…Cody does a good job of rounding out a stock character’s dimensions — Soberano has a tartness, an edge that makes her more fully human than she might be in a lesser writer’s hands. Or in a lesser actor’s. Soberano, a star in her native Philippines making her Stateside debut, is an ace scene stealer.” 

Dylan Roth, Observer: “Cole Sprouse is at the center of the movie’s gross-out slapstick and makes a solid comic foil for Newton, but the real second lead of the film is Liza Soberano as Lisa’s stepsister Taffy. Where an actual 1989 comedy about a high school outcast would probably frame the popular cheerleader as her vain and vapid opposite, Taffy is the heart of the movie.” 

BJ Colangelo, Slash Film: “In lesser hands, Taffy would be nothing more than an archetypal Valley Girl coasting off of a 1000-watt smile and vocal fry, but in Soberano’s more than capable hands, Taffy earns her spot in the ‘amazing sister’ roster of the teen girl movie canon. Her comedic chops were a genuine surprise and if she’s not waking up on Monday to an inbox filled with leading role offers, something is seriously wrong.”

Those who thought Soberano only has a short cameo or guest appearance in Lisa Frankenstein ought to see the film and join those Hollywood reviewers in lauding Soberano.

Advance screening

One Philippine company that’s happily supporting Soberano is Maya Digital Bank. It sponsored an advance special screening for the media on 6 February at Cinema 1 of SM Aura at the BGC. The company is the digital banking arm of Voyager Innovations, the leading technology company in the Philippines.

The screening was preceded by a well-produced video of Soberano addressing the Pinoy journos and vloggers and sharing some bits about her Hollywood film. There was also a sumptuous buffet dinner after the screening set up at Barcini’s on another floor of SM Aura.

As if to prove his assertion that he and Soberano are still offscreen sweethearts despite Soberano’s being in the US for about a year now, Enrique Gil turned up at the screening. So did hibernating actor James Reid, who acts as Soberano’s manager. (Reid did point out on the sidelines that his Careless firm in the Philippines is now only a co-manager of Soberano. She has another manager to take care of her Hollywood career.) Reid’s girlfriend Issa Pressman attended the special screening, too.

The media discovered Pressman to be sweet and receptive, and not a clinging girlfriend. And, happily, Reid doesn’t dominate her at all by keeping her always by his side. They gave interviews separately and confidently.

If Gil and Soberano are still lovers, it will have to be a long-distance relationship for years as the latter’s priority is to become a Hollywood superstar. That dream cannot come true if Soberano would go back to the Philippines soon.

And If Gil wants to be with Soberano, whom he vowed to “love until he dies,” he would have to move to the US. But he and his family are already too well-off in the Philippines to bother moving out and living as plain folks in the US. Gil recently practically bragged about selling two pairs of rubber shoes from his personal collection for more than P2 million.

Bank endorsers

Meanwhile, showbiz celebrities seem to be favored now as endorser of banks or specific bank products. On 5 February, we were invited to the launching of Security Bank’s new credit card called Wave MasterCard, with the siblings Solenn Heussaff and Erwan Heussaff as endorsers. The launch was held at The Island at BGC.

Security Bank’s new credit card Wave MasterCard endorsers Solenn Heussaff and Erwan Heussaff (second and third from left).

The card is so-named because it waves goodbye to annual fees, restrictive interest rates and unsustainable materials. 

“Our new credit card is designed to meet the needs and preferences of today’s savvy, budget and environmentally conscious customers,” said Sanjiv Vohra, SB president-CEO. 

 The card has an interest rate of only 2.5 percent — one of the lowest among credit cards in the country. It rewards customers with 1-percent cashback on all online purchases including shopping, dining and travel. 

“The card helps preserve the environment as it is made of 100-percent recycled PVC, as certified by the ICMA Ecolabel Standard,” said the Heussaff siblings who are both into saving the environment and are underwater sports enthusiasts.

Erwan, a widely followed vlogging chef, has been a Security Bank ambassador for years now, way ahead of Solenn’s being signed up. He is also well-known as the very liberal and understanding husband of actor-TV host Anne Curtis.