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MOVIE REVIEW: The unreality of ‘A Glimpse of Forever’

In his review of 'A Glimpse of Forever', Wanggo Gallaga explores the film's approach to mental health and virtual dating.

There is an in-your-face manner by which prolific director and screenwriter Jason Paul Laxamana uses his filmmaking in his latest movie, ‘A Glimpse of Forever,’ so that he can talk about mental health, most specifically social anxiety disorder. It’s a style that comes off very literal, very straight-forward, and very unlike Laxamana’s older works. His past films like ‘Between Maybes,’ ‘To Love Some Buddy,’ or ‘The Day After Valentine’s’ tackled trendy subject matters but did them in an organic manner with a fully fleshed-out world and a solid dramatic premise. The thought that Laxamana would be directing his lens towards the concept of virtual dating and the prospect of dual lives in ‘A Glimpse of Forever’ is quite intriguing but the first ten minutes of the film, things just don’t feel like one of Laxamana’s stronger works.

It opens in a very bare, brick themed office. Charles (TJ Valderrama) is asking his boss played by Andrea Del Rosario to let his friend Dante (Jerome Ponce) to take his place in the virtual dating company, ForeVR. So as to not be undermanned, Charles offers Dante, a trained theater actor, who unfortunately suffers from a severe case of social anxiety disorder. He has to cover his face (with a mask, and maybe a cap or a beanie) if he tries to socialize with others. But, at ForeVR, Dante would be working as a motion capture actor, acting alone in a green screen room, bringing to life virtual characters on a live “date” with their clients. It would be a perfect job for someone suffering from his condition.

What makes all this feel so inorganic and so unlike Laxamana’s stronger works in his filmography is how blatant the exposition is in this movie. The film begins in medias res and just as Charles mentions that Dante has a mental condition, Dante walks in and it’s in slow motion and the music becomes dramatic and it feels a little heavy-handed because nothing has happened yet. This happens a lot in the movie. The camera work gets dramatic as does the music for scenes that haven’t quite earned it just yet.

Dante proves himself to be great at playing any of the four characters that ForeVR offers their clientele – a bad boy, a classy and rich gentleman, a salt-of-the-earth laborer, and a bikini-wearing gigolo – and he slowly becomes a threat to the other motion capture actors already at the company. All of this unfolds in a straight-forward manner where all the ins-and-outs of the process is explained in an elementary manner. Immediately, you can see the subplot of Dante’s new co-worker’s jealousy comes to play and that – for someone who has no social capacity due to his condition – he seems to have a complete understanding of what women want.

And this is where the film is at its weakest. A quick montage shows the four characters in action, and the effect that it has on its clients. There’s no profound thought or understanding of what it seems that women want by this whole exercise. They come to a room to have a virtual date with a man that addresses archetypal, cliched ideas of what women want from men. 

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It’s not until twenty minutes have passed when Jasmine Curtis-Smith walks in (again with the slow motion and dramatic music) and breaks all the rules to book a virtual date with a character that is not on the menu: the boy next door called Kokoy (Diego Loyzaga).

Strangely enough, the staff assign Dante to take the role of Kokoy. None of the current roster can seem to get Kokoy right but in one try, Dante seems to have it down pat. So, even if it’s not on the menu, they allow Jasmine’s Glenda to book the date and the real story begins.

Glenda and Dante (as Kokoy) go through their first date, and it is hostile and violent. Glenda treats Kokoy mean but Dante handles it without missing a beat. He understands the boy next door as someone the client has known for a long time, there’s no pretension here so his approach to the character is not to baby her or flatter. Glenda gets so mad she storms off not finishing the session. Dante is about to lose his job except Glenda gives him the highest rating possible and a huge tip. And then she comes again.

Image Source: Viva Films FB Page

What’s strange is that the film’s idea of a boy-next-door seems to be that of a slob (his room is a mess) and he seems to be a lazy slacker. What makes it work is that Diego Loyzaga plays him with such natural charm that I haven’t seen in any of his previous works that I’ve seen. As Kokoy, Loyzaga is attentive and oozes with natural charm. The way he confronts Jasmine Curtis-Smith’s hostility as Glenda creates very interesting sparks.

So interesting that Dante begins to fall for her. But Glenda is another curiosity as well. When the camera moves in to show her side of life, we can see that she’s in an unhappy marriage but she’s extremely wealthy (someone says she’s the daughter of an extremely wealthy family) but she sells tie-dyed t-shirts in an open store in a plaza. There’s a sort of disconnect by the world that she supposedly comes from and how it operates.

While the story tries to play out a love story/love triangle narrative complicated by the idea of fake and surrogate identities, as the story rounds up towards the third act, it reveals itself to really be a story about dealing with and trying to overcome extreme mental disorders – the social anxiety disorder of Dante and that of another character that plays off of Dante’s own struggles – it’s a bait and switch that doesn’t exactly transition well. Unlike Laxamana’s other works, ‘A Glimpse of Forever’ has no clever storytelling style that allows the story to play out organically. For Dante, his struggle is mediated by scenes with a psychiatrist (played by Katya Santos) that is so literal and prosaic that it feels like a public service announcement or a product placement.

And unlike his other movies, ‘A Glimpse of Forever’ has quite a number of one-dimensional characters. Even the leads can be quite monotone except that Ponce and Curtis-Smith are good enough to add a layer of humanity underneath them. Loyzaga is also quite strong but as Kokoy, for he plays another character (they try to keep it secret but it’s so obvious on its first appearance because Loyzaga’s physique is so evident) and that one he seems to struggle with.

There’s a way by which Laxamana trains his camera on all the dramatic moments of suffering from the condition. It’s effects and how it makes the characters suffer because of it is front-and-center and feels exploitative. Everything feels directed towards the struggles and not towards building a believable world where all these things come into collision – why women go into virtual dates, how people with these conditions live (we don’t see them in everyday normal situations, we only see them struggling with their disorder as if nothing else happens but that), or how the economics of a company like ForeVR exists. It’s an intriguing premise and it has all the elements needed to make it work. Unfortunately, ‘A Glimpse of Forever’ comes off as fantastical and as unrealistic as the virtual dates that was at the center at the start of the film and kind of disappeared by the second act.

My Rating:



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A Glimpse of Forever
Romance, Science Fiction
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