The Next Great Love Story?
I am a sucker for romantic movies – be it heavy drama or romantic comedy – I’m always on the lookout for the next great love story. My recent trip to the cinema to watch Star Cinema’s latest movie “Forever And A Day“, which stars KC Concepcion and Sam Milby, has prompted me to write this post, and I am quite certain that I am likely to ruffle a few feathers with my personal and humble review of the film.
First, let me start by confessing that I’ve not been a big fan of Filipino films (in spite of the fact that I’m a patriotic Filipina) – at least not in the last decade or so – since it has, in my opinion, lost some of the quality and depth that were existent in movies of the past, and that which I had grown to love and enjoy. Although, I do admit also that it wasn’t always the case that I only enjoyed watching those award-winning type of monumental films and nothing else, since I do have a few on my list of favorites that were a bit “mababaw” (shallow). But at least with those particular movies, I knew right off the bat that it wasn’t going to be anything more than just entertainment. When I do go out of my way, however, to leave the house and put up with the long ticket booth line for a movie that somehow promises to deliver something I’ve never seen or heard of before, I expect no less than that exactly. So what, you may be wondering, made me want to see Forever And A Day? Well… recommendations and comments from friends who have seen it… which left me curious, or shall I say – intrigued.
I’m not going to give you a summary of the plot of the movie Forever And A Day here, as many of you most likely have figured that out from the trailers and teasers alone – boy meets girl; girl is sick (probably dying); against-all-odds type of romance. Who wouldn’t be a sucker for such a love story, right? There’s just something about the “you and me against the world” and the “Romeo and Juliet” crisis that draws out the hopeless romantic in many of us. I’m not making fun of them or mocking them, as I am one of them! However, I personally have very high standards for judging what makes a romantic film one of the greatest love stories of all time.
Okay, so on with my comments…
My Review Of The Movie
First, I’d like to talk about the actors’ performances. One thing I can say about KC Concepcion was that she was remarkably good at letting those tears flow, and making it look so effortless, it greatly contributed to the believability of her portrayal of a young woman who’s desperately hanging on to dear life. In fact, her crying prowess kinda reminded me of Demi Moore’s performance in the movie “Ghost”. Except for some scenes where she could have done a lot better, or have given it a different approach – perhaps a little less tears here and there, since too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing – KC Concepcion generally did well.
Sam Milby, on the other hand, although one would hope he did his best, was just missing the “oomph” factor I always look for in a lead actor, especially in a romance film such as this. I may just be a bit too prejudiced towards Sam though, because I personally don’t find him all that attractive to begin with, and I believe that the lead actors’ likability factor is highly crucial when pairing up couples for any romantic film. There ought to be a genuine connection, a credible rapport between the lead actress and the lead actor, that convinces the audience that they could actually be attracted to each other, let alone be insanely in love with each other. That is the first ingredient that I personally look for in a romantic film. Never mind if they are dating off screen as well, or not. If they can make me believe in their on-screen love affair, then the movie has my attention. Sad to say, I didn’t think they looked good together all that much nor have I sensed any deep connection between them.
On that note, I would just like to also say that I think the problem we have with Filipino films these days is that most of them are written with specific actors already picked out by the producers as they are developing the story line. As opposed to the usual process by which they do it in Hollywood. If I am not mistaken, directors in Hollywood and even in UK (as was the case for Spiderman, Superman, Hairspray, and Harry Potter) go out searching for actors that they think will best suit and play the character AFTER the story was written. They either call for auditions or they offer the role directly to the actor they have in mind. By doing it this way, the directors can visualize how the lead actors would look on screen and how they would interact and respond to each other’s look, touch and words. Unfortunately, that is not the case in Philippine show business.
Now, on to my comment about the film itself… I’d say that the movie was okay. Not bad, but nothing spectacular either. One of the first things I commented on when my daughter and I talked about the movie after having seen it, was that I thought that scene towards the beginning of the movie where Sam Milby and KC Concepcion first bumped into each other, where Sam knocked KC down to the ground (the “bubble gum” scene) was totally unnecessary. In my opinion, even if the first time they ever crossed paths was in Cagayan, that would have sufficed. The pair of shoes that KC was wearing in that park (which turned out to be Sam’s design) was a good enough reason for him to strike up a conversation with KC, as he did so in that scene anyway. So the whole time, I wondered, what that bubble gum scene was for, other than a waste of film and running time. It didn’t contribute to the story in any meaningful way. If it turned out to be a concomitant incident leading to them meeting in the first place, then yes, I would see why it was necessary to put it there. But no, It didn’t figure that they would not have met had they not bumped into each other in that bubble gum scene.
I didn’t cry either, as I expected I would have, given the plot and the obvious efforts of the director, the writer and the actors to jerk the tears out of their audience. Now that alone, for me, is a clear gauge of whether a movie moves me or not, since it doesn’t take much to make me cry at movies! Seriously. I’m a big cry baby when it comes to romantic and sad movies. The point is that the movie in totality did not move me enough to drive me to tears. For someone like me who has seen the brilliance of films like “The Notebook”, “The Bridges Of Madison County”, “Notting Hill”, “City Of Angels”, “An Affair To Remember”, “Message In A Bottle”, “50 First Dates” and “A Walk To Remember”, it is inevitable for me to base my standards on these films. Especially since “Forever And A Day” sort of reminds you of “A Walk To Remember” in that the heroine in the story is also terminally ill. Somehow the latter made me cry, and the former failed to do so. Now I am not saying that a movie has to make me cry or else, it’s a crappy movie! When I said earlier that it doesn’t take much to make me cry at movies, I meant exactly that – all it takes is for a movie, or a book, or a topic of conversation to touch a special place in my heart, and I’m there crying! Now on the few occasions that I found movies that do rock me to the core, then not only can you expect to see Niagara Falls out of me, but that I am deeply affected even days after I have seen the film.
What “Forever And A Day” Lacked
Many of the scenes in “Forever And a Day” were just not that touching, plain and simple. The story was really sad, no question about that part. The writer and director obviously tried hard – probably a bit too hard to their detriment – to make the audience cry. I mean, I see the point of what they were trying to achieve in some scenes specifically, but the way it was executed didn’t quite hit a homerun for me. For example, the scene where Sam hung KC’s lifesize photos in her backyard was, for me, not that touching, and really a bit “over the top” when compared to the the things Landon (Shane West) did for Jamie (Mandy Moore) in “A Walk To Remember” – Landon painstakingly building Jamie a telescope from scratch to see the stars from the balcony of her own bedroom, taking her to the border of two cities so that she was standing in two places at one time, patiently sitting by her bedside at the hospital every single day, and who would forget the part where he proposed and married her dying girlfriend – and what was touching about all that, without trying so hard, was that Landon’s character did all that to make all of Jamie’s wishes come true, while she was still alive. That just grips your heart big time! So I’m not talking about the grandeur of the leading man’s gesture but the underlying reason for which he did what he had done. It should be more than just the actors shedding tears, but more about its ability to allow viewers to get in touch with their emotions using situations that, in one way or another, are very real to everyone.
Furthermore, Forever And A Day lacked memorable lines that would really rock anybody to his core. Take “Mr. Holland’s Opus” for example. The entire movie was not what you would consider as trying hard to be a tear jerker, but it did move millions of viewers to tears with the line, “Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched; and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life”. Even before the camera focused on Richard Dreyfuss’ face, I was already crying buckets of tears by then. Why? Because of the situation he was in… Because of how his character must be feeling at that time that I have come to understand and relate to – feeling of failure, of inadequacy, and then to be reassured how much you are in fact appreciated and loved.
The message of any story is the most powerful factor that makes or breaks a movie, in my humble opinion. But that alone doesn’t successfully make the movie effective. How each scene is carefully visualized and written by the writer, and how it is accurately interpreted and artistically executed by the director is the next big thing, and finally, how the actors translated every thought and emotion by their brilliant portrayal of their characters is what brings it all to life for us viewers.
Again, what I have written here are my personal thoughts and opinion of the movie. I have no intention of criticizing anybody who might have a different or an opposing opinion. So again, after having seen the movie Forever And A Day, I’d say -
NO, I haven’t found the next great love story in Forever And A Day, and haven’t found any other movie yet to succeed the likes of the movies I mentioned above, but I hope there will be one very soon.
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