‘Hanggang Kailan?’ review: Breaking up is hard to do

Oggs Cruz
The film, mostly set in Saga, Japan, stars Xian Lim and Louise delos Reyes

HANGGANG KAILAN. Louise delos Reyes and Xian Lim play lovers in Japan. Screenshot from YouTube.com/VIVAEntertainment001

Hanggang Kailan? is not just the title of Bona Fajardo’s sad romance that is mostly set in Saga, Japan. It is also a question that will continue to nag and bother you throughout the entire film.

Up to how long will the two talk about the demise of their doomed love story. Up to how long will Fajardo attempt to shroud the shallowness of his sequences with picturesque surroundings? Up to how long will the film force its audience to commiserate in the awfully staggered misery of its characters?

Inevitable break-up

The greatest feat of Hanggang Kailan? is that it to manages to stretch the inevitable break-up of two lovers played by Xian Lim and Louise delos Reyes to close to two hours.

The film opens with a poem, perhaps to plead the case that the film shouldn’t be taken as a mere chronicle of two lovers in the final few days of a loving relationship. Sadly, there is nothing in the entire film that convinces that their truncated love story is beyond mundane. The passages, whether they be the happy moments where we see the two eating luscious wagyu beef or disrobing their yukatas to make sweet love or the sad ones where they contemplate their obvious lack of any future together while admiring the gorgeous vistas of rural Japan, are all rote and redundant.

Hanggang Kailan? is essentially a dull medley of conversations that stubbornly revolve around an affair between a man who is about to get married and the girl he has kept as a secret lover for years.

Masquerading as a timeless tale

After a day in their vacation in Japan, the girl suddenly decides to call it quits, causing the film to disrupt its timeline with sporadic flashbacks that are supposed to chronicle the history of their illicit romance but only adds to the confusion as to the years wasted by the two individuals in maintaining a relationship that was never meant to be. Fajardo relies too much on artifice and flirtatious jabber to really establish a love story that deserves to be rooted for despite all the circumstances against it. The result is just a lot of pretty but empty scenes, more apt to be posted on a curated Instagram feed than in a film masquerading as a timeless tale of tragic love.

Hanggang Kailan? stumbles because it aims for lyricism when it should have first grounded itself with a plot worth following.

It is most unfortunate because both Lim and Delos Reyes churn out performances that are surprisingly sober despite the florid dialogues. More particularly, Delos Reyes sustains a clear effort to render her character’s sad plight somewhat engaging despite the severe illogic. Given a more palatable narrative, Lim and Delos Reyes could probably have had a fighting chance to evoke emotions that are more relevant to love than pity, pain and utter boredom.

Test of endurance

Hanggang Kailan? is a test of endurance. 

Tragedy, even in something as fleeting as an insignificant romance, is already quite a depressing affair. Coupled with a gross lack of any urgency in storytelling and such cluelessness in determining what can make tragedy affecting, the film teeters towards being completely intolerable. – Rappler.com

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ Tirad Pass.

Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.