Finally, I caught Direk Dan Villegas and Direk Antoinette Jadaone’s collaboration #WalangForever yesterday with my bestie. For those who don’t know, this film was the Best Picture awardee during 41st Metro Manila Film Festival, after Direk Dan won Best Director/Best Story and Direk Tonette won Best Story and Screenplay for last year’s entry, English Only Please. Of course, expectations were high for these real-life lovebirds who specialize in rom-coms and hugot movies.
Popular rom com writer Mia Nolasco (Jennylyn Mercado) has earned the reputation for writing blockbuster love stories inspired by her own relationship with Ethan (Jericho Rosales) but after eight years together, they still break up because of different “priorities.” Years later, they meet again and rekindle their relationship but their already complicated love story has grown even more so. Issues that plagued them before now seem like child’s play to what they have to hurdle.
#WalangForever was a slow starter. It started off with a faux interview with Mia that passed through all the requisite flashbacks of the beginning of Ethan and Mia’s love story, alternating between the movie counterparts (played by cameos of a parade of young stars) and the actual Mia/Ethan. While the idea seemed creative and cute on paper, it seemed to drag on in actuality, mainly because the young stars did not have chemistry to pull off the kilig that one should feel when seeing sweet scenes like the ones they were supposed to portray. Its not their fault because they only had two minute exposures tops and not enough time to deliver on the requirements.
But this was the same problem for Jericho and Jennylyn, even from the beginning. I felt like while individually, they are marvelous actors, together, they lack the spark that would really get the audiences to root for them to be endgame. I’m sorry to say that the romantic scenes seemed too pa-cute for Echo and Jen and even with a bevy of clever one liners and hugot lines, I just could not get on board with their relationship.
While I love Jennylyn Mercado, I didn’t feel any connection to her character, who , despite the establishment of her background felt too closed minded and self centered. What Ethan was asking was not unreasonable to blow up the way that she did and to break up with him as easily as she did. Not to mention the fact that she would badmouth him in front of their friends behind his back when they did meet again. I didn’t get why she felt entitled to feeling like a victim when she was the one who broke Ethan’s heart no matter what angle viewers look at.
The film finally kicks in towards the next chapter in their relationship and I must admit that the reason for this was the charming and funny set of supporting characters that the film cast in the movie. My favorites were Aldus (Pepe Herrera) and Sasha who lightened the mood in all the right moments and contributed in all the dramatic requirements needed for their characters.
In the second and third part of the movie, there was also a sense of evolution in the characters so they were acting more mature and not too cutesey. When the film finally revealed the twist, Jericho Rosales brought his A-game and dished out the dramatics. Jennylyn also had her highlights in the film that earned her back to back trophy as MMFF Best Actress.
I’m sure a lot of people will relate to this movie because its very realistic. What makes it effective is that audiences will relate with either Mia or Ethan and be compelled to choose sides at one point of the movie or the other, as with relationships and break ups. I don’t know if it was just me who felt the lack of chemistry but I felt this hurt the movie because Jennylyn and Echo churned out stronger performances individually but cancelled each other out in their scenes together. And that’s very problematic for a film shipping two characters to be together.
All in all, I felt that #WalangForever was technically not a bad movie. It had a good script and good direction and execution. However, the missing spark between lead stars Jericho Rosales and Jennylyn Mercado weighed heavily on its overall impact. Its relatable but its not cute. Its a love story but it won’t make you fall in love. It was a good idea but it lacked the magic that was present in previous Dan Villegas and Tonette Jadaone offerings. It was a nice try but for me, it was a no go. I could be wrong, but then you would have to see it to judge for yourselves or simply take my word for it.