REVIEW | ‘The Eternity Between Seconds’ paints a pretty but tedious picture

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Yeng Constantino as Sam in 'The Eternity Between Seconds.'

In a blistering cold South Korea, two troubled souls meet, a 40-something man and a millennial girl. Their paths cross onboard the Airport Railroad Express (AREX) while sitting directly across from each other, way at the back of the train, with the windows overlooking the gentle snow.

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Alec Figuracion’s “The Eternity Between Seconds” is a “Before Sunrise” movie, two strangers meeting in a foreign country and prattle on about life and their existential issues. Married guy Andres (TJ Trinidad) is a despaired self-help author, while Sam (a black-haired Yeng Constantino) is an anxious orphan. The unlikely pair connect and hang out within the confines of the Incheon International Airport.

The two are bonded by their reluctance to face life outside of the airport, with Incheon serving as a halfway house toward their reality. They connect cerebrally, both having a penchant for pseudo-intellectual talks and horrendously shallow psychobabble. It’s insufferable listening to the two talk, their philosophical jousting too studied and contrived.

The cover of Andres’ self-help book shows a fish jumping out of its fishbowl, with the title “Take The Leap.”  The unimaginative book title and cover should already serve as a foreshadowing of the film’s “substance.”

Competent actors as they are, Trinidad and Constantino lack chemistry and rapport, and along with their trite talk, it’s hard to care for them and their problems. The airport is far more interesting than them.

Your viewing pleasure is compensated by crisp shots of Incheon’s ultra-modern architecture. The vast, panoramic rooflines and the airport’s high-tech features and amenities that merge traditional Korean design and modern art are breathtaking. Sometimes, though, you get frustrated by the excessive close-up shots of Sam’s Doc Martens and her face, giving you a sense of claustrophobia.

“The Eternity Between Seconds,” which won the CineFilipino Best Picture, feels tedious for its one-dimensional characters pretending to be deeper than they really are. The premise is golden, but with a spurious script, its short running time already feels like an eternity.

1 out of 5 stars
CineFilipino Festival, May 9-15, 2018 in Gateway, Greenbelt 1, SM Megamall, MoA, SM Fairview, SM Manila, SM Southmall, SM North

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