‘The Eternity Between Seconds’ is the story of two strangers, a writer and a fresh graduate, who spend a day at the Incheon airport terminal; two lost souls who want to delay their travels as they come to grips with their past and their future.
Directed and written by Jan Alec Figuracion, ‘The Eternity Between Seconds’ is a subdued narrative, where the emotions tend to stay repressed and a world of meaning is left unsaid because of the fact that its two main characters are, by all means, just strangers who happened upon each other and going separate directions.
Andres (TJ Trinidad) is an author of self-help books and motivational speaker, who just concluded a talk and a book signing in South Korea, is on his way home while Sam (Yeng Constantino) has just arrived to live with a father she hardly knows.
When Andres’ expensive watch goes missing, he meets Sam, who joins him on the search to delay her meeting with her father. As they explore the huge terminals of the Incheon airport, the two get to know each other and find in each other the answers to questions they never asked aloud.
There are a lot of amazing cinematic visuals in the film that shows Figuracion’s understanding of the medium. There are moments when these two characters are sharing intimate moments but they are world’s apart as the backdrop of the enormous terminal comes between them. They are searching for something, maybe in each other, but the distance is distinct and palpable.
I like the stillness of the film and the undercurrents of emotions that are bubbling inside the characters throughout the film, but there is a coldness to the story and the storytelling. There is an absence of warmth in the film that kept me distant and disengaged. I understand the undertones of sadness but there seems a general lack of any sense of joy, even fleeting.
Even the most tender of moments fall flat because the film never lightens or shifts from its original mode. Its restraint, which serves excellently at the beginning, becomes its downfall at its end.
While the film has lovely visual metaphors, the narrative symbolisms get lost in the dialogue. Like the missing watch, the incident that brings the two together, disappears completely from the narrative, which removes any sense of urgency and it feels like a missed opportunity.
There is no feeling of catharsis and even if the characters struggle to find their own personal climax, the film should have one of its own. And while TJ Trinidad and Yeng Constantino are both excellent actors, I feel they were directed against their strengths. While both actors hit their emotional beats, the coldness of the film keeps me from believing in their chemistry.
I wanted to like this film, I was told by many people that it was really good and the people beside me were crying at the film’s end, but the 90-minute film felt like a two-hour movie with nothing really happening. I felt that it would have been stronger had it been tighter, less meandering, and warmer, especially towards the end.