MOVIE REVIEW: 4 Days (2017)

Adolfo Alix Jr.’s LGBT-themed 4 Days may be imperfect, but it’s exactly the reason why it reflects the authenticity of a flawed and complicated relationship between two lovers whose love screams for the need to be freed.

Set in the campus of the University of the Philippines – Diliman, 4 Days follows the story of roommates Derek (Sebastian Castro) and Mark (Mikoy Morales), whose relationship blossomed from platonic to romantic, structured in a narrative time capsule of 4 Valentines days.

Director Adolfo Alix Jr. wisely utilized the concept of space as to how the characters move in their own worlds, using contra-distinctive shots as to how little they are versus how big their outside world is. How the film flaunts multiple vast, aerial shots of the UP Diliman campus serve as a great contrast in showing how small, air-tight, and almost claustrophobic the relationship of Derek and Mark is, which is confined in the very little portals of their own bedroom. This serves as the catalyst of each of the characters’ difference in rationales: Derek, as the one who’s used to his comfort zone, and Mark, as the one who struggles to breathe and wants the bigger environment outside. This also can be deduced when Mark’s voice over is played whenever the camera pans at the aerial shots. Not only this suggests that he’s the one who constantly sees the outside world, but it also is a manifestation that, as someone whose love is imprisoned, he wants the freedom that his love deserves. The direction is poetic in a very subtle way; it’s never self-absorbed. It is a great example how specific and well-thought mise en scenes can greatly affect the entire mood of a film. In terms of its atmosphere, Alix has aced it right off the bat.

The long, uninterrupted takes effectively create a slow burn tension both in silence and in outbursts. The length of these takes is a trial of patience not only for the audience, but also for the characters, as both Derek and Mark take us into their shoes. They make us feel both the awkward restraint, and the jarring outbursts their relationship contains.

Mikoy Morales’ performance as Mark is effortlessly on point, you’d sometimes forget it’s a film you’re watching. How ordinary his portrayal is what makes it extraordinary. His rawness creates a great chiaroscuro to the star turning screen presence of Sebastian Castro, which serves as major points for a good casting: Morales as the wallflower, and Castro as the womanizer, which they have accurately achieved both aesthetically and substantially.

The biggest setback of the film is its structure. In a nutshell, the narrative felt like it skipped a couple of chapters ahead. It peaked way too soon during the moments when the characters were supposed to be established individually. That being said, it is rather far fetching to sympathize with these characters because we weren’t given the chance to actually know who they are other than the prototypes they represent. As a viewer, I didn’t feel like I grew with the characters; they developed rather rapidly, to the point where I ended up not knowing who they are anymore, particularly in the latter half. We feel for the idea of their situation, but not for them as people. Perhaps, the drawback is due to the over-emphasis on a year’s single day, which haphazardly summarizes everything in congested sit-down conversations. This led to a couple of self-contradicting behaviors and irrational responses. It left me wanting to know them more. However, the actors’ commitment gave everything what their characters and the story did not.

Despite a couple of casualties in its storytelling, 4 Days is a testament of an assertive, experimental, mood-driven film-making of seeing the unspoken language in a director eyes. The final scene basically sums up its intentions and goals — the freedom of love should be at nobody’s expense.

3.75 out of 5 stars

SPOTLIGHT: An inside look at actor-singer Mikoy Morales

For the past few years of trying out different forms of acting, every part is added to my perspective. It’s one big craft, and it adjusts to its medium. For me, acting should be expressed in all forms you can. — Mikoy Morales

He might be one of those new faces we’re just starting to recognize in the industry today, but actor and singer Mikoy Morales already has several pivotal experiences under his belt, including a Golden Screen TV Award nomination for Outstanding Breakthrough Actor in Teen Gen; a mentorship from pop icon Jolina Magdangal in Protégé back in 2012; and, the opportunity to be with the Superstar herself, Ms. Nora Aunor for Joel Lamangan’s Hustisya in 2014.

Mikoy Morales, also known as Marco to his friends, started gracing the stage way back in 2011 in his first role for a minor stage production in the University of Santo Tomas called Kleptospirosis. Months later, he once again starred in a major musical school production of Miss Saigon where he played the lead role of Chris, the American G.I. who fell in love with Vietnamese maiden Kim (a role originated by Lea Salonga on the West End Production). His sensitive acting chops and promising vocals showed everyone an artist whose versatility in the performing arts is something that is simply hard to set aside.

“Miss Saigon is my very first acting stint”, he says. “Since music is my forte, it added to my confidence kahit paano dahil musical siya.”

Getting the exposure of acting on stage was the driving force he needed to pursue this path professionally. “Acting in UST was just the tip of the iceberg” he says, “but it was also the bridge para magkaroon ako ng chance to pursue it professionally and to enter the industry talaga.”

In 2012, he tried his luck in auditioning for GMA’s Protégé: The Battle for the Big Artista Break where he was able to secure a place under Jolina Magdangal’s team. He soared high to the top, and was able to finish as the season’s runner-up. That was the beginning of everything for Mikoy. After his Protégé days, numerous acting opportunities came aboard, including his television roles in Teen Gen, Pepito Manaloto, Bubble Gang, D’Originals to name a few, and stage roles in Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady the Musical and Virgin Labfest 2016. In 2014, he landed his first film role in Hustisya opposite Nora Aunor, which premiered in the 10th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, and was selected as one of the Contemporary World Cinema features in the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Despite being a neophyte in his craft, rarely do actors, both seasoned and newcomers, would ever have the privilege to say that they have been with the Philippine cinema’s Superstar. When asked about how was it being with Nora Aunor on film, he says “Totoong tao siya! Kaya siguro ganun siya ka-galing, dahil ganun siya ka-totoo.”

Mikoy has continuously paved his way through project after project, proving to everyone that he is a star to look out for. It is in 2017 when he perhaps landed his most challenging role yet as he plays Mark in Adolf Alix Jr.’s 4 Days opposite Sebastian Castro. This may not be Mikoy’s first gay role, but the level of intimacy, sincerity and rawness that the film requires of him is something that is definitely a milestone in his career. “I got carried away easily sa scenes dahil walang script” he says, “kung anong lumabas, yun lang ginagawa namin, and because of that, it was more honest.”

“I’ve said this over and over again: I love playing gay roles”, Mikoy reiterates. “It’s my way of challenging the society to not label people. Gender equality is one of my biggest advocacies. ”

He also mentioned that he aligned a lot of his own personal characteristics to Mark, as he wanted his performance to be as true as possible. “Kailangan mo lang talaga buksan isip mo eh. Binuksan ko lang isip ko. I acknowledged my tendencies. I wanted everything to come from a place of truth. It felt real for me, and ‘yun ang proof na love is universal.”

“Puro slices of life ‘to”, Mikoy says when asked what to expect in 4 Days. “Yun yung gustong mangyari ni direk Adolf dito, for you to experience the perspectives of the characters. It’s a very, very patient movie. You’ll find out later kung bakit. It’s very real. It’s to show the human side of a relationship. I hope you guys enjoy it, kasi sobrang nag-enjoy kaming gawin ‘to. Love wins.”

Both critics and fans alike have yet to see what’s in store for Mikoy in the next couple of years, but what we have witnessed in the last 5 years is a promising artist who exudes passion and potential to be a seasoned performer of his generation in the showbiz industry. “Most of my epic moments in acting hasn’t really happened on screen. They are all backstage. Doon nangyayari ang discovery and explorations, which goes to show na parang kulang pa ang opportunities na nakukuha ko. Kaya gutom na gutom parin ako dahil alam kong hindi ko pa naipapakita lahat. Ilang percent palang ‘yun ng kaya kong gawin talaga.”

An Ayala Malls Cinemas’ exclusive, ‘4 Days’ will open on October 18, 2017 in Greenbelt 1 and Trinoma Cinemas.

LGBT-themed ‘4 Days’ to screen with Nora-Alden-starrer ‘Kinabukasan’ starting Oct 18

Adolfo Alix Jr.’s LGBT hit film ‘4 Days’ will be screened, together with his short film ‘Kinabukasan’ starring Nora Aunor and Alden Richards, exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas starting October 18, 2017.

Love holds no bounds they say, and for people who are part of the LGBT community, your first love is what sometimes define you and what you want in a partner. When things don’t work out, that love is what teaches you lessons in love and life.

Most of us want a love that lasts, a love that will be nourished and cherished, and is what’s in store in Adolfo Alix Jr’s “4 Days” starring Mikoy Morales and Sebastian Castro.

Set inside the spacious and beautiful grounds of the University of the Philippines Diliman, it tells the story of Mark (Mikoy Morales) who goes about in his first day of college inside UP, where he meets his roommate Derek (Sebastian Castro) and as the two go through four years of college together, with every valentine’s day they try to get through their feelings for each other while staying inside the closet.

For those who have had or at least tried relationships from within the closet, this movie is sure to hit you to the bones with feels.

Team Magazine calls “4 Days” a love story that is full of cautionary actions that demand to break free. “There is the irony that what you love needs to be hidden, especially from parents who could take your access to each other away. There is the tragedy of this source of happiness being one you deny in front of your friends, allowing a lover’s doubt to set in.”

Those who will watch “4 Days” will also get the chance to see “Kinabukasan” a short film that won Best Short Film in the 2015 Gawad Urian, starring Superstar Nora Aunor and Alden Richards, filmed in 2014, it was part of the short film category in the 2014 Cinema One Originals and at the 2015 Hanoi International Film Festival. The story begins with Ernest (Nora Aunor) who after losing his lover, meets Niles, the son of his lover who has come to collect his things. What might seem as a simple encounter gets filled with tension, causing the two to discover what lies underneath the sadness of losing the one you love the most.

An Ayala Malls Cinemas’ exclusive, ‘4 Days’ will open on October 18, 2017 in Greenbelt 1 and Trinoma Cinemas.