“Walang Forever” excavates a familiar ground in the very limited scope of the traditional romantic comedy genre. There is hardly anything new in its delivery, and it relies on extremely recognizable contents like closures, and second chances, to relay an equally relatable sentiment: “Is there really such a thing as ‘forever’?.”
This Dan Villegas film does not stray away from that projection, but it works immensely when it takes its subjects to a more grounded level, making them accessible enough to be tapped by those witnessing it. The film evokes familiar poignant sentiments in an oddly relatable romance, even when it rushes reaching an equally oddly maniupulative resolution.
Mia Nolasco (Jennylyn Mercado), a celebrated film writer, is struggling to get free of her tragic romantic past. It has already taken a great toll on her writing, and with two of her recent movies labeled flop, her producers has started hinting she might get fired if she don’t get her act together as soon as possible. The entry of her ex-boyfriend, Ethan (Jericho Rosales), to the picture, provides a timely relevant, but unacknowledged, advantage, for her threatened career, as her superiors and friends keep pointing out how she needs to get back the motivations that made her past movies into blockbusters.
The build-up of the film is uninviting-ly lazy at the beginning, the first act being almost entirely devoted to Mia’s recollection of the events in her life which her screenplays are based upon, each one reflecting pieces of the love story she shared with Ethan—from the moment they first met, to the bitter exchange of goodbyes that came in the wake of a petty misunderstanding. It goes to bloom into a more engaging second act, when the two ex lovers start picking up the shattered pieces of their love story, together.
This part is also arguably where the film’s comic efforts are landing on right places, Dan Villegas’ brand of humor evoking contagious chuckles among audience, who at a certain point would find the sudden shift of the narrative’s tone into the final act, initially confusing.
At such point, what have initially appeared a steady progress of the film’s cheesy, but often remarkably affecting tone, drastically falls into a manipulative tragedy. I was at one point wondering how fast the transition was, baffled by how swift the path of the narrative bent toward becoming a tragic koreanovela-ish love story.
It somehow feels obliged at first, rather than a necessary development, but it finds footing, and ultimately earns the affection it longs for.
Jennylyn Mercado is at her best element here, since ‘English Only, Please’. She is singularly shining during one scene where her character breaks down in front of Ethan, her frustrations clashing against her realization that she might lose him again without even knowing why. Her struggle and pain are palpably evident, her delivery digging into familiarly excruciating wounds in the heart of the audience whom the movie’s haunting message is relayed for.
Jericho Rosales is equally convincing, his character being the emotional core of the film’s resolution. There is an irresistable chemistry that broods between the two, their characters when sharing fatal kilig-imbued moments, most affecting when captured in one frame together, but also most searingly relatable during moments of their painful confrontations.
There is a sheer poignancy that emerges in the struggles of both Ethan and Mia. Their romantic disasters are not ones we are unfamiliar about, but it affects through a context that makes its sentiments elicit a more lingering, oddly reminiscent, sense that reminds us the possibility of second chances, and forever. That it is not perfect is not a question.
“Walang Forever” works best when maintaining balance between its adherence to its genre’s conventions and welcoming new takes, but its probably the latter that keeps it from being entirely within the traditional romcom’s fold.
RATING: 8/10 (JE)
“Walang Forever” is an official entry to the 41st Metro Manila Film Festival.