Coco-Julia starrer lacks sense of contextBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The current film, “A Moment in Time,” has a particularly heart-rending conflict for viewers to consider: “What would you do if you found yourself falling in love with the young woman who, years ago, accidentally ran over and killed your beloved mother?”
The conflict is so awesome and chilling that we expect the movie that posits that horrendous question to rise up to the occasion and shed genuinely insightful light on that extremely difficult and contentious issue—otherwise, why ask the question in the first place?
Alas, after watching the film, we must conclude that its answer begs and even beggars the question, because its take on it is mostly just for melodrama’s sake.
Yes, the conflicted young man (Coco Martin) and his mother’s “accidental” killer (Julia Montes) act up a storm, but their anguished portrayals don’t shed enough real light on the complex issue, and end up as mostly emotion for emotionalizing’s sake.
When he finds out that she killed his mother, love predictably turns to hate, and he coldly breaks her heart, prompting her to flee to Amsterdam, where she nurses her broken heart. For his part, he discovers that time does heal all wounds, so he regrets his cruelty and flies to Amsterdam to look for her, to belatedly and abjectly beg her forgiveness.
—Alas, he’s too late, because she’s found another, less emotionally convoluted beau, to whom she agrees to get married—unless?
—Unless, of course, the film plays yet another predictable gambit, its “mapagparaya” or self-sacrificing card, and Julia’s fiance “realizes” that she loves him less than the heart-breaker she profess to hate (figure that out), and the amazingly noble fiance steps aside just before the movie’s final fade, so it can achieve its regulation Happy Ending.
How nice for everyone concerned—but, what about the effective and insightful resolution of the film’s central question and conflict? Aside from “time heals all wounds and makes even the most conflicted lovers learn to forgive and finally come to their senses,” what else does the movie have to offer by way of instructive character growth and insightful self-knowledge that viewers can empathize with and “learn” valuable lessons from? Not all that much, unfortunately.
Focusing on the film’s plus points, we commend the production for its alternately stark and lovely visuals, and the textured portrayal turned in by Cherie Gil as Julia’s mother. On the other hand, her nuanced work also serves to underscore the relative shallowness of Julia’s own portrayal—ditto for Gabby Concepcion’s depiction of her father.
As for Coco Martin, we commend his ability to achieve instructive contrast in his character—from the lighthearted Patrick before he found out his beloved’s dark secret, to the pained and enraged person he became right after. But, in his character’s most challenging emotional scenes, the actor failed to sufficiently measure up to those sequences’ admittedly difficult demands.
Most tellingly of all, “A Moment in Time” feels more like an episode in a TV anthology drama than a feature film. Most of its scenes are small, and we miss the sense of context that a full-length movie has, with plots and subplots being insightfully interwoven to fully clarify the central conflict up for resolution.
The difference between a TV drama and a full-length film is immense, so this movie’s limitations are a telling comment on what we’re being deprived of—and what we’ve lost.
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