This is a film that should be seen by everyone so the synopsis will be spoiler-free but the review won’t be examining key themes in full-length detail. If the movie intrigues you, I urge you to check it out.
Plot synopsis: Maquia comes from a clan where all members stop aging in their mid-teens and live on to be immortal. Life within her clan is calm and peaceful until an enemy army invades intent on learning the secret behind her clan’s long life. Maquia is successful in her escape but loses everything and everyone. While wandering around in the forest, she finds an abandoned baby boy whom she names Erial and raises him as her mother. Only time will tell how long the bond between Maquia and Erial will last. Will it strengthen or weaken over time.
At the film’s beginning, the Elder of Maquia’s people, the Clan of the separated gives a warning to Maquia, “You cannot fall in love with someone from the outside. If you fall in love, you’ll truly be alone.”
This cryptic warning doesn’t take effect until Maquia meets Erial. She raises Erial from childhood to adulthood forming a maternal bond with him. Once Erial becomes an adult, he enlists in the castle’s army to defend the kingdom leaving Maquia behind. Recalling the Elder’s warning, she breaks down in tears. Maquia became attached to Erial and loved him as her own. They promised each other that they’d always be together never leaving each other behind.
Naturally with Erial growing up and desiring his own independence the promise would eventually be broken much to Maquia’s dismay. From her perspective. Erial’s departure comes off as a “personal betrayal ” to her because she blames him for leaving her alone. Before she met Erial, Maquia was all alone after most of her tribe was captured and executed along with her close friends being separated from her.
Aside from Erial, Maquia only has a handful of close friends since she’s viewed as a “social outcast” due to her appearance. Taking care of Erial and being around him every day, she couldn’t help but become attached to him making the pain of his leaving unbearable. His abrupt absence from Maquia’s life reminds her of her own loneliness.
“I don’t want to be alone.” Maquia remarks.
Maquia comes from the Clan of the Separated, a tribe characterized by their long flowing blond hair and everlasting youth. The Hibol cloth is a special cloth which contains the history of the Iorphs which is weaved everyday. Hibol cloth is a source of communication for Iorphs since only Iorphs can interpret the hidden message in the cloth. It was this method which alerted Maquia of Leilia’s marriage.
In the forest, Maquia and Erial meet Mido, a kind woman from a farming village that teaches Maquia how to be a mother. Soon enough, they are introduced to her sons: Lang and Deol who aid her in running their farm. During her stay with Mido and her sons, Mido suggests that Maquia dyes her hair from blond to carrot red so she fits into the village and is seen as Erial’s mother due to their matching hair color.
As time passes by, Lang and Deol’s dog, eventually dies and his death is mourned over by the family and Maquia. Mido and her sons are given a reminder of their own mortality after the funeral. Someday all of them will die making their time on Earth precious.
Maquia runs off during this conversation to a bridge. She can’t bear the thought of her friends and especially Erial dying. She’ll outlive all of them as they perish. Lang catches up to her at the bridge and gives her advice. He tells her that she needs to be strong for Erial. This means that she must not show her tears to him since it would be a sign of vulnerability and weakness. She must “chin up” and be brave. After this exchange, Maquia calms down and promises to “put on a brave front” for Erial.
Leilia, Maquia’s best friend is kidnapped for her immortality. Out of the arranged marriage, the child she bears will be immortal like her. As it turns out, Medmel, Leilia’s daughter is mortal and thus discarded. Before Leilia can bond with her daughter and build up their mother-daughter relationship. She’s taken away and both are forbidden from seeing each other.
Leilia’s anguish , despair, and loneliness toward the separation from her daughter made me tear up. It reminded me of my mom. My mom enjoys watching these mother-daughter separation stories in Filipino tv dramas. The mother and daughter are kept apart each living separate lives. The mother’s one desire is to reunite with her daughter. The suspense builds wondering if /when mother and daughter will recognize each other and reunite.
As previously mentioned, the same goes for Leilia. She’s given wealth, fancy dresses, and jewels as distractions from missing Medmel. No amount of material possessions could ever replace her daughter. From Medmel’s perspective, she’s grown up without her mother. Her only companion is her maid. She’s even curious about her mother’s existence.
Maquia gets kidnapped by Krim, Leilia’s former boyfriend. He cuts off Maquia’s red hair, a symbol of her time spent as Erial’s mother. This was a brief period of normality in her life however that now lies in the past. While trying to enter the palace both of them get separated. Maquia stumbles upon Erial and Dita’s house. She discovers that Erial has married Dita, a girl from his childhood who was jealous of Maquia. Dita is pregnant with their child. Maquia assists Dita while she’s in labor making the delivery a success.
Afterwards, Dita wraps the baby in swaddling cloth. The baby holds on to Maquia’s finger. This scene prompts a flashback of Maquia finding Erial as a baby doing the exact same gesture. Soon after, Maquia leaves and briefly reunites with Erial.
Erial recognizes Maquia without her red hair and the two reconcile. As much as it pains Maquia to leave Erial’s side, it must be done in order for her to move forward. Erial is left in anguish. Tears streaming down his eyes and onto his cheeks. He cries out to Maquia begging her to “come back” but is met with silence.
This scene and the ending [which will be discussed later] brought on a flood of tears. Up until this point, Maquia and Erial have been separated for a long while. Their reunion is short-lived and bittersweet. It’s heart-wrenching to see Maquia and Erial brought back together only to be torn apart.
With uncertainty hanging in the air of when the two will ever meet again. I can relate to this since I’m in a similar situation with a close friend.
In the castle, Krim meets up with Leilia hoping to rekindle their relationship. However, she favors Medmel instead of him. With his mindset stuck in the past, Krim decides to kill Leilia then himself so they’ll be together at least in the afterlife. Krim’s fantasy is cut short since he’s shot to death thus freeing Leilia.
Leilia finally meets Medmel but their long-awaited reunion is brief. She doesn’t even acknowledge herself as Medmel’s mother. Instead of introductions and mother-daughter bonding, Leilia requests that Medmel forget about her [Leilia’s]existence. She’s better off at the castle under the care of her maid.
Leilia jumps off the balcony onto a Renato handled by a Maquia. As they’re flying away, Leilia feels pain, anguish, and regret about leaving Medmel behind. Maquia informs her that “the brief moment of happiness “was completely worth it despite the pain.
Moving forward possibly 50 years in the future, Maquia returns to visit Erial and his family. She sees his daughter grown up with her own kid and has a brief chat with her. After that. Maquia locates Erial now an old man on his deathbed.
The two reunite and catch up. Maquia comments
“You lived your life to the fullest, didn’t you?”
Erial smiles in response. Also she reaffirms her promise to be strong and refrains from crying. A few minutes later, Erial closes his eyes finally able to rest in peace with Maquia by his side.
Departing from Erial’s side, Maquia walks away. She reminisces about her life with Erial through various flashbacks. These memories cause Maquia to be sentimental and acknowledge Erial’s absence. His impact on her life is immeasurable and irreversible. The heavy weight of the loss prompts Maquia to break her promise.
For the first time in a long while, Maquia breaks down in tears allowing herself to be vulnerable. The last time, she cried is at the bridge with Lang comforting her. It’s cathartic for Maquia to cry since it allows her to embrace all her emotions without holding them in anymore. With her son gone. she gives herself permission to weep. The tears cascade from her eyes, past her nose and down to her cheeks. Her face is tear-stained. Pulling herself together, Maquia doesn’t regret her time spent with Erial because it brought her happiness despite the pain.