Sunday, January 3, 2016

Movie Review: #WalangForever

I met Jericho Rosales in 2012 at a storytelling session for the Inquirer


Director: Dan Villegas
Producers: Quantum Films, MJM Productions, Tuko Films, Buchi Boy Films

Our film of choice this Metro Manila Film Festival season is #WalangForever. It is too bad we didn't catch Honor They Father, but, who knows. I am hopeful to see the movie before the season officially ends. Now, for my review.

#WalangForever is a story of love lost and found. Mia, played by Jennylyn Mercado, and Ethan, portrayed by Jericho Rosales, are former lovers once engaged. Personal problems, priorities in life and career put their relationship to the test. It was one test they both failed. Thus, the experience made them bitter, jaded and scorned. Mia, a successful screenwriter coasts through life penning the greatest love of her life into her movies while Ethan, manages a thriving business, until a life changing event made him decide to leave the country and live with his mother abroad. Thanks to friends, a timely barkada reunion put them back together again.

Love is lovelier the second time around? Not really.

What worked

When Mia and Ethan were back in each others' arms, it was not the sweet moment of love's second chance. After all, a painful break up would elicit more complications. With Ethan's diminishing health, Mia made the choice to love again. Despite the past and the pain of loss, Mia went after her man and took the risk of being hurt all over again.

For what? And why? Well, to love. Forever.

This is where the conceit of forever comes in. It is in fact the questions, may forever ba? Ano nga ba ang forever? which the movie presented at the beginning by showing people and couples defining what forever is, is the whole point of the movie. It is a philosophical challenge, actually, but, with humor and comedic touches by Dan Villegas' direction, this idea of infinity and the struggle to establish the constants in our lives make the journey of finding a forever lighthearted at the same time, life affirming. In the end, the movie audience is made to find his or her own forever and its relative, if not elusive, definition. #WalangForever does not only make you laugh or cry, it makes you think of the what is and the now.

I find the script and storytelling smart and sensitive. I particularly loved the quiet, awkward moments and the hidden contexts between characters like Ethan and Aldus, Tita Betchay and Tonipet, Ethan's mom and her foreigner husband. The ensemble cast of supporting actors are a delight to watch. They are given enough back story to represent who they are in the lives of Mia and Ethan and the relevant roles they push the plot forward toward a happy ever after. Their roles, though small for some, like Sasha, Ethan's kinakapatid, emphasize the yearning or desire of this constant, this idea of forever. Despite Ethan's death, everyone remains hopeful. Life goes on. Love endures. The ending where Mia's latest film about her life and Ethan's is lived out for all to see and witness. Such is the story of love, where one's immense pain is a source of great joy.

Using film to amplify this concept and to tell a story in this medium is reflective of the passion and dedication that Villegas and the rest of the production team have on their craft. They make movies yes, but they also love. They love their art. They love their craft. They love to share a good story.

Hurrah to Jennylyn Mercado and Jericho Rosales. Their chemistry is amazing. Jennylyn Mercado's star quality never dims. Her light shines in the movie from start to finish. Jericho Rosales is still Mr. Pogi and though the lines on his forehead reveal that he is not as young as he used to be, he remains the dramatic actor I loved watching in Pangako Sayo (yes, I used to watch teleseryes).

What didn't work

Sid Lucero. That cameo. It is so small for his acting chops. Can someone please give him a lead role in a romcom?!

Rating: 3.5 / 5

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