Walang Forever works not just because of the amazing onscreen chemistry of Jericho Rosales and Jennylyn Mercado but also because of the rapport of its ensemble cast.
More than offering “kilig” scenes, this 2015 Metro Manila Film Fest entry is a moving reminder of the power of love amidst seemingly insurmountable odds.
After the MMFF, there is a possibility that Philippine tourist arrivals in Taipei will considerably increase. Part of, and a pivotal part at that, the movie was shot in that neighboring city. Some of the most memorable scenes, in fact, happened at the tallest building there, Taipei 101.
Walang Forever is directed by Dan Villegas and penned by Paul Sta. Ana, producing credits are also given to rom-com darling Antoinette Jadaone. In fact, the film is billed as “from the makers of English Only, Please—that feel-good romantic comedy that also starred Jennylyn Mercado and Derek Ramsey, who even did a cameo in this MMFF 2015 entry.
The movie starts with a mock documentary approach, posting this question: Is there or is there not such a thing as “forever”? What follows is a series of replies ranging from funny to serious, including a reenactment by Carlo Aquino of his famous line from the film adaptation of Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa? Walang Forever is somehow divided into three parts, with the idea of “forever” being questioned and (maybe) close to being answered.
The chemistry between the two lead actors is unmistakable. The entire ensemble, actually, is composed of theater thespians, cameos from different industry players, and venerable actresses Lorna Tolentino and Irma Adlawan.
Jennylyn is Mia and Jericho is Ethan. In a series of flashbacks and interviews, we learn that they were in a committed relationship for eight years but things ended badly. However, the storytelling is not that straightforward. Mia is a successful and much sought-after rom-com screenwriter and, drawing from the assumption that writers draw inspiration from real-life situations, scenes from her hit comedies are juxtaposed with the experiences with Ethan that inspired them. This is a novel approach and sets the tone of the movie as very light romantic.
It is fun to see staple “kilig” moments that have become canon for this movie genre portrayed tongue-in-cheek.
Then, the film comes to the present, when the former lovers’ paths cross again and for a few scenes, the narrative becomes slow and sinks to those scenes we are so familiar with when encounters occur—but never does it go so low as to wallow in melodrama. Almost as quickly, the film stops wallowing and once again becomes a series of “kilig” moments between Jericho and Jennylyn.
Theater veteran (from Rak of Aegis and Manhid) Kim Molina almost steals the scenes as Mia’s best friend. She goes beyond being the loud, overbearing comic relief, but shows compassion both when she is being funny/silly and caring. As well, Jerald Napoles (also from Rak of Aegis) displays a natural comedic talent and timing. Kim and Jerald have a hilarious scene that is so well-directed, it could actually happen in real life. Because, yes, truth is stranger than fiction.
Lorna Tolentino and Irma Adlawan are clearly the rocks of the movie, who act so naturally, and clearly hold the respective households, so to speak, together.
There is a part of the storytelling that reveals too much, too early—but it does not disrupt the narrative too much. Maybe it needs to be said for some audiences. But this writer thinks the Filipino viewer is sensitive enough to pick up on cues rather than be told something. It is a minor issue, though.
The lead characters are, obviously, also two of the sexiest in the business today. And Direk Dan Villegas makes sure to tease and reveal just enough to keep things interesting and the audience excited. A lot of credit goes to the amazing natural onscreen chemistry between Jennylyn and Jericho. They make the scenes look like captured reality, not staged drama. Every hug, every kiss, every smile, every glance… perfectly timed and orchestrated.
It is important to say again that the movie dips its toes in but does not jump into melodrama. In some cases, it conforms to the contemporary ideas that now form the definition of Filipino romantic comedies. That being said, and do not say you were not warned: bring tissues or a hanky to the theater.
At the press screening of the film, almost everyone was in tears by the time the end credits rolled. But still, it is a light story. It will definitely satisfy those looking for sweet moments and hugot lines. Also, stay for the end credits because there are some interesting scenes that you will find amusing there.
Walang Forever is, for this writer, the must-see romantic dramedy of the 41st Metro Manila Film Festival.
This and the other entries will shown in cinemas nationwide starting December 25, 2015.
(To learn more about the MMFF 2015 entries, CLICK HERE)
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.