Piolo’s visually sumptuous drama leaves much to be desired | Inquirer Entertainment

Piolo’s visually sumptuous drama leaves much to be desired

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:35 AM April 01, 2017

Piolo Pascual with child actor Raikko Mateo

Piolo Pascual with child actor Raikko Mateo

Piolo Pascual’s latest starrer, “Northern Lights: A Journey to Love,” fills the screen with lonely characters in dire need of closure. Alaska-based Charlie (Pascual) numbs the ego-crushing pain of his unresolved issues with his disloyal ex-wife Joyce (Maricar Reyes) by dating women who want nothing but a quick lay.

But his resolve to forget about his checkered past flies out the window when he meets his estranged son, 8-year-old Charlie Jr. (Raikko Mateo), who’s “visiting” him in Anchorage for the summer.


The kid is adorable and precocious as heck, but his inquisitive nature and boundless curiosity scare the bejesus out of Charlie, who refuses to reopen old wounds for the young visitor he hardly knows anything about.


Angel (Yen Santos), who kept Charlie Jr. company on the flight to the United States’ 49th state, is also haunted by memories of her runaway mother, Leah (Glydel Mercado)—who’s reportedly in Fairbanks, about 580 kilometers to the north of Anchorage. Her young ward is just as eager to take a trip to Fairbanks to see the flashy display of the aurora borealis in the Arctic sky.

Are they ready to start anew when the excitement of seeing the northern lights begins to dissipate?

Director Dondon Santos’ well-meaning production banks on too many fortuitous chances and an oft-repeated tale about broken people coming to terms with severed ties and “interrupted” relationships. Unfortunately, it’s too mushy for its own good.

The actor with Yen Santos

The actor with Yen Santos

From the get-go, the three-hanky drama is weighed down by its characters’ repetitive rambling and the flat and “spark-less” chemistry between the awkward Piolo and the lovely but phlegmatic Yen, who delivers her lines as if she were reciting soporific poetry.

Some of the movie’s press releases describe Yen’s character as feisty, but you’ll hardly see Angel’s supposed spunk in the actress’ “much-too-naturalistic” characterization, except in fleeting moments of bracing vim and vigor.

Ironically, Raikko does better in his dramatic scenes, because he possesses an expressive face that complements his knee-jerk enthusiasm. He does as he’s told—and he does it well.


As for Piolo, we enjoyed his “game-changing” and career-reinvigorating performances in “The Breakup Playlist,” “Silong” and “Starting Over Again,” but he’s a little long in the tooth to still get cast as a skirt-chasing, four-pack abs-displaying Lothario who’s hiding a scarred soul and heart of gold.

He falls short of hitting his thespic mark with a perfunctory portrayal that lacks depth and gravitas. And it doesn’t help that his odd Pocahontas wig and unflattering hairstyle are not quite a snug fit for him.

While more contrived than insightful, the film nonetheless benefits from its sparkling locale’s luscious Winter Wonderland vibe and sprawling snow-capped vistas captured on the silver screen by cinematographer Zack Sycip, as well as a kilig-inducing finale.

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Unfortunately, gorgeous views and happily-ever-after endings don’t a good film make.

TAGS: “Northern Lights: A Journey to Love”, Piolo Pascual, Raikko Mateo, Yen Santos

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