In Cathy Garcia-Molina’s “Forever And a Day”, the answers take a rather pragmatic route, and much like real life, the repercussion of some decisions doesn’t always end in “happily ever after”. The film is an exposition on acceptance more than it is about dealing with grief, and in more ways, this is an unusually brave project for a mainstream production bent on concessions that usually dumb down their audience.
KC Concepcion sheds off her theatrical affectations, the vicarious habits that used to underline her distracting enthusiasm displayed in Joyce Bernal’s banal effort “For The First Time” and Joel Lamangan’s “When I Met U”. In Maryo J. de los Reyes’ “I’ll Be There”, KC was able to flaunt flashes of controlled brilliance, but “Forever and a Day” ushers an inspired chapter when the Megastar’s daughter is finally proving her worth as an actress in serious contention. And though it doesn’t seem so, Concepcion is really just three years in the business, though we presume to have known her forever. Her mother wasn't this proficient on her fourth film (Eddie Garcia's "Cross My Heart"). Can you imagine what she is capable of doing on her 10th year in the business?
As the suffering Raffy, KC pulls away from the usual broad strokes integral in Filipino melodrama. There was a degree of subtle constancy, an unwavering dedication to her character. She never faltered. In fact, her inherent ardor is quite palpable from her facial expression to her body movement. If you’ve never heard of graceful grief, this is how it’s done. And if Raffy fails to tug you in the heart strings, then there is something very wrong with your affect. Suddenly, KC is doing something right.
Sam Milby does well himself as the embattled corporate planner. His motivations were quite understandable, and his concerns thrusted the gravely battered “male ego” to the fore. Gone are Milby’s heavy handed, ultra-emphatic deliveries. He has truly evolved into one of his generation’s most dependable actors (see "Third World Happy" for proof). It also helps that he generates a simmering chemistry with KC.
Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro provide a dreamy backdrop to the emotional predicaments experienced by the protagonists. They perfectly provide a tableau that helps move and highlight the narrative. After this, who wouldn’t want to visit that side of Shangrila?
Director Molina is truly the modern-day exponent of cinematic quotations, but there’s a line in the film that doesn't sit well with us. While Raffy sits beside Eugene, she then looks down, gazes at her shoes and says, “Shoes are the least appreciated things in this world,” which I beg to disagree. We're aware that she was spewing commentary on the seeming expendability of life. But shoes? If that were true, we wouldn’t have an Imelda Marcos. I wouldn’t be buying a pair once a month. Moreover, there wouldn’t be a Eugene Silvero in a movie like “Forever and a Day”. Shoes are indeed much appreciated; people slave away just to plan on buying one. Despite this minor quibble, there are other note-worthy lines. When Raffy talks about the helplessness of her condition, she likens this to “Parang nananakawan… nadaya, even if you’ve done everything right.” Bad things indeed happen even to good people.
The movie is chivalrous in many levels, and we have to tip our hat to Molina’s audacious foray into movie world’s Neverland. Yes, you won’t find a Filipino movie as indomitable in its commitment to delve into the realm of mortality, bereavement and acceptance! It has moments of unabashed mawkishness – the protracted spiels at Raffy’s bedside, but we understand its exigency. More than anything, the film dispenses lessons that most cinematic stories omit or decide to ignore. When life threatens to make a sudden halt, we still try to make the best of our remaining hours. Regardless of its brevity, life is still a precious gift.
For a change, I won’t complaint about the film’s B-rating from this dubious organization called C.E.B.
"Forever And a Day" is clearly a cinematic jewel!