Taking the right step forward

09 Apr 2019 / 10:47 H.

IT IS almost drilled into the heads of college-bound students across the world that going to a top school, driving a sports car and having a beautiful woman (or handsome man) by their side will make their life perfect.

It’s a perception perpetuated by what appears in the movies, advertisements and yes, even social media.

Camila Mendes hopes her first film can help to dispel some of these misperceptions.

The actress, fresh from her first TV starring role as the beautiful and wealthy Veronica Lodge in Riverdale (a television series based on the much-beloved Archie Comics, but with more drama and 10 times the angst), will next be seen in the Netflix Original movie, The Perfect Date, which premieres here on Friday.

She plays Shelby Pace, a beautiful high-society girl held up as the perfect date for the film’s lead character Brooks Rattigan (played by Noah Centineo).

The Perfect Date is about Brooks, a high school senior who believes that getting into an Ivy League college will get him the life he dreams of.

In order to make some money, he takes on the job of escorting Celia Lieberman (Laura Marano) to a social event.

The two become friends, but their ‘date’ gives him the idea to hire himself out as a paid date, where he pretends to be whatever the girl who hires him wants him to be.

With help from his friend, Murph (Odiseas Georgiadis), Brooks launches an app to get him clients.

During another ‘date’ with Celia, he bumps into Shelby, whom he believes is the one who would make his life perfect.

During a recent tele-conference interview with Mendes who was in Los Angeles, the actress was asked why she signed up to play Shelby.

Mendes said: “I wouldn’t say it is a big role. For me, I did not have any film experience whatsoever before Riverdale.”

She explained that she got the part of Veronica in Riverdale right after leaving college. Shortly after wrapping up filming of the second season of the show, she was cast in The Perfect Date.

She recalled: “It was a straight offer, and it was my first film project. I had done an indie project before but [had] a very small role.

“And I think an indie film is very different [compared to this]. This was on a larger scale.

“In a way, I am building up my film resume and building up my repertoire. For me, The Perfect Date is a stepping stone.”

There is a pivotal dinner scene in the movie between Brooks and Shelby which is an eye opener of sorts not only for Brooks, but also the audience.

Mendes explained: “I think to an extent there is a message that any teenager [understands] – that they have to get into a great school, [and] pursue this stereotypically successful life.

“I think now, more than ever, we are learning that there is more than one path, and we can all be successful in our own way. A lot of successful people get that way without getting into an Ivy League school.

“For Shelby that is her life, that is all she knows. She has always been in a world of wealth and Ivy League prospects.

“She is kind of a shoo-in for that type of world. All she has ever known is having her whole life planned out.

“Brooks comes from a different background, and thinks he needs to be that way (go to an Ivy League college) in order to be successful.

“In that scene, I think he realises he doesn’t even know what he wants [to do] after he gets into an Ivy League school. He has no idea what he is going to do beyond that.

“Ivy League is just like a symbol for him, what is socially acceptable instead of doing something that will make him truly happy.”

The Perfect Date is directed by Chris Nelson, from a screenplay by Steve Bloom and Randall Green. It is based on the 2017 novel The Stand-In by Steve Bloom.

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