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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 23, 2015

Jennylyn Mercado & Jericho Rosales Deliver Unforgettable, Award-Winning Performances In 'Walang Forever'

WE’VE JUST SEEN one of the finest local films released in 2015, “Walang Forever”. At first, we didn’t think much of it as we’ve already had our quota of so many rom-coms this year. But it turns out the movie will take you somewhere you might not be prepared for. The first part was really funny without forcing us to laugh.

The structure itself is already hilarious. We see so many stars and starlets (mostly of ABS-CBN, including Maja Salvador, Sofia Andres, Jane Oineza, Khalil Ramos, Michelle Vito, Jon Lucas, Julian Estrada, etc.) and also non-Kapamilya stars (Derek Ramsay, Sid Lucero, Liza Dino) giving life to various films written by Mia Nolasco (Jennylyn Mercado), a much sought after rom-com scriptwriter.

Mia is being interviewed by a TV reporter (Phoemela Baranda) about her works. It turns out all these scenes, with some alterations here and there, were culled from her real life experiences with her boyfriend of eight years, Ethan (Jericho Rosales). And the actual incidents that happened to her and Ethan on which they are based are also shown in the course of the movie.

They break up because Ethan wants to take her to Australia where his parents are based, but Mia is not ready to leave her career and her own family. Years later, they meet again and something is rekindled. From here on, we don’t want to reveal anything else as it will surely be a spoiler. Suffice it to say that there came a point when we can no longer hold back our tears, not only because of the touching situations happening on screen, but simply because both Jericho and Jennylyn are so competent and effective in their respective roles, aided and abetted by Dan Villegas’ outstanding orchestration of the whole narrative.
The movie works, first and foremost, because we get to truly care for the two characters. Jericho is most especially charming and lovable here, not only in his tear jerking scenes but even in the scenes where he is just horsing around in bed with Jennylyn wanting to be cuddled like a puppy. This is a quality of his that was never tapped before by Star Cinema (not even during the heydays of his love team with Kristine Hermosa), whose priority for this kind of romantic vehicles was either John Lloyd Cruz or Piolo Pascual.
It had to take Quantum Films to tap Echo for this kind of vehicle and we’re so glad that he replaced JM De Guzman as he is just perfect for the role. John Lloyd is good in “Honor Thy Father”, but it will be a mortal sin if Echo wouldn’t bag the best actor award comes filmfest awards night.

Jennylyn won the filmfest best actress award last year for “English Only Please”, but she is even better and more luminous here in an even more complex and even flaky role that somehow manages to pay tribute screenwriters. The scenes where Jericho tells her “Sa susunod, alamin mo muna kung totoo ang sinasabi mo, bago ka magsalita” and when she follows Jericho to Taiwan and proposes to him will just melt your heart. Viewers whose eyes are still dry at this point surely have a heart of stone and they should examine their capacity for empathy and compassion.

But of course, we reserve the best comments for Director Dan Villegas, whose genial treatment will easily win you over and even succeeds in coming up with a homage to moviemaking. The most profound and compelling love relationships are those about the dying of one’s self for your loved one and achieving true kinship with the suffering of others. This is a wonderful lesson in love and commitment that is beautifully conveyed by his movie, surely a cut above the rest of the usual rom-coms we see and which is certainly an improvement over his own past two works, “Mayohan” and “English Only”.

We are so glad that we now have a new batch of young directors who show much promise in their work even when they’re just doing commissioned romantic works, like Cathy Molina (who does a cameo in the movie), Chris Martinez, Mae Alviar, Dan and his partner, Antoinette Jadaone.

Dan also succeeded in convincing his two stars to turn their backs on the teleserye kind of acting they’ve been honed to do on TV. Here, they’re both so carefree, so at ease, so natural, and so effective. And they have an appealing, easygoing connection that makes their story even more fascinating and heartfelt. Giving them terrific support are Lorna Tolentino as Jen’s mom, Irma Adlawan as Echo’s mom, Kim Molina, Pepe Herrera, Myke Salomon and Cai Cortez as their very supportive friends.

This early, we’ll be brave enough to predict that “Walang Forever” will have long, long legs at the box office. A first rate date movie, all those who’ll see it will undoubtedly promote it by personal word of mouth endorsement to their friends, what more if it would win awards like “English Only” did.