Image courtesy of www.wikipedia.com
Main Cast: Piolo Pascual. Yen Santos, Raikko Mateo
Director: Dondon S. Santos
Released by: Regal Films, Spring Films and Star Cinema
MTRCB Rating: PG
Each family has a story to tell. “Northern Lights: A Journey to Love ” is a simple story about family relationships, of love, struggles and compassion.
Charlie Sr. (Piolo) lives a free-spirited, bachelor life as a Filipino immigrant in Alaska. His life takes a turn when he is suddenly charged to care for his estranged, young son from the Philippines, Charlie Jr (Raikko), whom he left after a major clash with the boy’s mother, Joyce (Maricar Reyes) when she was still pregnant with him.
Shot both in New Zealand and Alaska, the movie is a visual feast showcasing the snow mountains and the mystical and world famous Northern Lights. This is a plus as not any local movie gets to be shot in Alaska owing to the physical limitations present.
When Charlie Jr. arrives in Alaska, father and son bond and struggle to renew the lost years between them. Angel (Yen Santos) gets into the picture when she went to the country for her school training - and unbeknownst to her family - to look for her long-lost mother there, too.
The plot could have been leveled up ‘though for more depth and interest to the viewers. The physical make-up of the icy environment further adds to the coldness and weariness of the story as a whole. Some good conflict can be squeezed out even from the simplest of stories. Takes creativity and execution.
Yen Santos does better in comedy scenes with Piolo but is anemic in her drama scenes, specifically that of her cringe-worthy dramatic encounter with her mother (Glydel Mercado). It would have made a difference, too, had the director exhausted a bit to bring out more in Glydel who is known for her acting spunk.
Likewise with the adorable Raikko Mateo. Wonder why director Dondon failed to squeeze out the child’s acting mettle as he had shown when he was much younger and became television’s darling in “Honesto”.
For the most part, perhaps it was only Tirso Cruz and Sandy Andolong as Piolo’s parents who do not disappoint. They are your regular grandparents who act normally as loving and doting to Charlie Jr. every chance they get which overwhelms the heart without trying.
Piolo on the other hand is neither dull and convincing as a playboy Charlie. Fortunately at times, his to die for good looks alone can make up for the acting mediocrity that is not new to him. Worth some good mentions, too, are Jerald Napoles’s and K Brosa’s effortless performance as Piolo’s close friends.
On the technical side, the flawed editing is quite obvious, too. Character development is quite amiss, especially on romance between Charlie and Angel. There was no real courtship to speak of in the beginning to justify the seriousness of their tears that suddenly culminate in their bed scenes together.
And wait till you see the confusion in the final scene. It is supposed to be a major spectacle with the full video screen of the Northern Lights as backdrop to boot, but unfortunately again - acting, execution and editing.
Yet, despite the flaws, there is something to like in the movie - the fortitude of a family as a unit despite the distance and circumstances. It shows both the human vulnerability and strength of heart as displayed by the dying Joyce (Maricar Reyes) when she chose for the two Charlie’s in her life - both her precious one and the man she wronged – to live together for the rest of their lives.
Northern Lights: A Journey to Love is now showing in cinemas.