Sometimes I watch a film and want to give everyone involved a pat on the back, while still thinking it’s not that great a movie. That’s the case with Four Days, which certainly has its heart in the right place, plenty of dedication and comes from a country which doesn’t have a huge track record of producing gay-themed movies, The Philippines. However, the results are a little underwhelming.
As the title suggests, the movie takes place over four days – four Valentine’s Days over four years. On the first day, Derek and Mark are both fairly new to being college roommates and are working out where they stand. Mark is particularly keen that Derek understands that if he’s put a sock on the door, it means he’s entertaining a woman and his roomie shouldn’t interrupt.
By the next year they are firm friends. Derek has developed strong feelings for his roommate, but Mark has had a succession of girlfriends, each time backing off because they won’t ‘give him space’. Over the rest of the film the two young men move closer to the relationship they perhaps both desire. Even that may not be the end of their problems though, as one of them is determined to stay in the closet while the other wants to be out and proud.
It’s a sweet if not particularly original story. Indeed, one of its issues is that it feels as if this is how gay-themed stories were told ten years ago. There’s a rather didactic approach to its subject, when it needed a slightly gentler touch and a little more subtlety. The same is true of the arty touches, such as long, static shots of swimming pools, which feel more like they’re stalling for time than they they’re adding anything to the movie.
Ultimately, that’s Four Days’ biggest problem – it feels like it’s been stretched out beyond breaking point. While the setup of the story has plenty of potential for a feature-length treatment, the actual screenplay is essentially a short film’s worth of story elongated into a movie. As well as the long shots of not much happening, you also have oddly repetitive scenes, which makes it feel even more that Four Days is padding things out massively. Making this even more frustrating is that there’s plenty more story that could have been told and more depth brought to the story, but instead it limits itself to what would have made a good 30-minute film, and then stretches it out.
The results aren’t terrible, and it gets better as it goes along, but the fact that initially so little happens so slowly means that when it finally speeds up, it’s too little too late. There is a sweetness and a real sense of commitment from all involved, not least actors Sebastian Castro and Mikoy Morales. Likewise director Adolfo Alix Jr. has put massive amounts of effort into creating a gay romance that he hopes the audience will relate to. While there are some very good moments, the bits in between spend a lot of time getting some relatively simple points across and filling out the running time.
Overall Verdict: What should have been a good short film with quite a few really good moments, feels like it’s taking far too long to eke out far too little plot.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac