Walang Forever basically starts with a burst of exposition. Mia (Jennylyn Mercado) is introduced as the writer of several big hit romcoms. She is being interviewed for television, and she is asked about from where she draws her stories. We’re shown clips of the movies that she’s written. At the same time, in a completely different place, Ethan (Jericho Rosales) is being grilled by his co-workers about his ex-girlfriend. He tells them about the big moments in their relationship, which just happen to be just like the big scenes in Mia’s movies. Because as it turns out, Mia and Ethan used to be together.
The movie picks up with them running into each other again at a reunion. Their reunion is less than friendly, but after Ethan discovers that she’s been using their life together as inspiration for her stories, he realizes that he actually misses her and he decides to pursue her again. Mia, under pressure to write a new screenplay, and afraid of having her heart broken again, is reluctant. And on his part, Ethan is bearing a secret that could change the complexion of their relationship. The film follows the two as they pursue the idea of “forever.”
The story is torn between several impulses. The question the film asks in the beginning is whether or not people believe in “forever.” The film eventually gives an interesting, definitive answer to that question through its narrative, but getting there is a bit of a strange journey. The first half of the film is a pretty light romcom mostly focused on Mia and her struggle to come up with new stories without any inspiration. But then there’s a shift in the back half, with the story mostly switching over to Ethan, and the film then tackling much weightier subject matter.
It’s tough to talk about without giving too much away. Suffice it to say that it’s kind of difficult to connect where the film begins with where it ends. The film clearly has this trouble, too, as it struggles to find a tone. The direction downplays the lightness in the first half, infusing an air of melancholy to everything that happens. The film seems to be conditioning the audience to accept where the film eventually goes, but it mostly does these scenes a disservice. It’s kind of an interesting choice, but it doesn’t quite work out.
The best parts of the film end up being the ones that aren’t dealing too much with plot. There are scenes that just show Mia and Ethan together as a couple, in moments where the overarching narrative doesn’t really matter. A scene as simple as Ethan trying to get Mia’s attention while she’s trying to write ends up being more affecting than anything else, thanks to the easy reality that the film brings to the sequence. It also benefits greatly from chemistry between Jericho Rosales and Jennylyn Mercado. The actors can’t quite overcome the quirks of the film’s structure, but there are plenty of scenes where it’s just easy to believe that the two are a couple.
Walang Forever just goes to a strange place. If the film really wanted to be serious, it might have worked better if it had just started with being serious. It might have introduced the complication at the start, and let the story flow from the characters dealing with knowing the problem. But it still tries to be cute and quirky at the start, which makes some of the things the characters do at the end feel intolerable. Occasionally the film stumbles into the right balance of gravity and cuteness, the film crafting low-key scenes that just feel like two people in love hanging out. But they get lost in the bigger picture, which just seems to struggle with what it wants to be.