Perahu Kertas (2012) (part 1)

First Indonesian Movie Review ever! :D

I think this year is quite a good year for Indonesian movie industry with several solid releases in a variety of genre. Earlier this year we got Modus Anomali (a twisted psychological thriller), The Raid (for the bang-bang action aficionado), Soegija (historical drama), Lewat Djam Malam (a beautifully restored classic from the 1960s courtesy of World Cinema Foundation), Sanubari Jakarta (anthology movie with a strong LGBTQ-theme), and a personal favorite, Lovely Man. Now through the crafts of Hanung Bramantyo we have a movie adaptation from a widely popular Dewi Lestari (aka Dee) romantic-fiction, Perahu Kertas.

Let me began by saying that even though i am an avid fan of Dee’s Supernova series since it came out i rarely read her other work inlcuding Perahu Kertas. So the following review would purely came from my thoughts after watching the movie alone. While the premise seems leaning towards romance, Dee herself refuse to categorize it as a chickflick, so to all the male, please do not hesitate to watch it.


Kugy (Maudy Ayunda), an eccentric, quirky girl who loves writing fairy-tales and probably believes in UFO, Teenage Mutant Turtles Ninja and new-romantic 80s britpop, met Keenan (Adipati Dolken), an aspiring artist who majors in Economic, through the hands of her best friend Noni (Sylvia Fully) and her boyfriend Eko (Fauzan Smith), and the foursome have fun as a gang. The two instantly attracted to each other but Kugy has her long time boyfriend and Keenan got his hands full of Wanda (Kimberly Ryder), an art major/curator cousin of Noni who is interested in his art and in him as well. With the things changing their dynamics, the foursome starts to drifts apart. In 2003, Keenan move to Bali to immersed himself in learning the fine art of painting despite by leaving home and his family  against the rage of his father (August Melasz) and the sadness of his mother (Ira Wibowo). Under the guidance of Pak Wayan (Tio Pakusadewo) he learns and with the help from Ludhe (Elyzia Mulachela), a shy balinese beauty, he rediscover his believe in his passion. Kugy finished her study and become an intern in an Ad agency where his brother works, where she become close with his boss, Remi (Reza Rahardian). In 2004, the lovebirds that is Noni and Eko decided to tie the knot, and eventually bring Keenan and Kugy to meet again after years apart. TBC to part two of the movie.

My first spontaneous thoughts about this movie was how it need a lot of editing. The overly complicated plots and the amounts of character we abruptly say hallo and goodbyes to during the roughly 112 minutes of the movie made me feel quite exhausted. I think this is actually the problem of adapting a brilliantly detailed novels into a movie where they tried to jam as many details that did not help in strengthening the foundation of the story. I think there are several events that should be cut out entirely and film-makers need to be aware what are the necessities of each sequence and maybe by doing that the movie would not be too long that they need to split it into two parts. Or, if the compromise was considered too great, maybe it will be more fitting as a mini-series (which would be awesome, don’t you think?). I like what i saw visually and think that the movie definitely have a good cinematography. I like how they captured the emotion of the character by focusing on their gestures and body language. It was brilliantly utilized in some of the movie dramatic scenes. However, some of the shots especially towards what i assume as the climax of the movie kind of remind me of photo editing work i used to do back in high-school, the over-use of bokeh,  which to be honest was quite annoying for me. No i don’t hate bokeh per se, i think it contributes a certain nostalgic, emotional feel to a picture, but i hate the misuse of it in this movie.

The two lead did not capture my full attention, i think i am more raptured by the more senior actors and actresses who steal the scenes with their subtleness yet charismatic presence (which is kind of a bad thing), such as Tio Pakusadewo, August Melasz, Ira Wibowo, Titi DJ, Pierre Grunno, and even Dee herself!  All who reminds me that Indonesia used to have this legit soap opera back in the 90s (unlike the shits we saw on tv nowadays). Kugy eccentric antics reminds me of Noda Megumi aka Nodame character from Nodame Cantabille (brilliantly portrayed by Ueno Juuri in both the serial and movie version)  or Luna Lovegood (portrayed by Evelynn Lynch) in the Harry Potter franchise, i am not sold on the performance, and its almost as if, Kugy has this dual personality, too normal to be quirky, yet too absurd to be normal. Keenan is silent for most of the time, exudes very little character and did not leave too much impression for me. Keenan and Kugy romance has very little chemistry in my honest opinion, just from watching the movie alone, i do not get why they are each other’s one that got away. The ayu balinese girl, Ludhe, her appearance is the most engaging for me, shy and exudes traditional beauty. I love how he watch Keenan with obvious awe and longing in her eyes, there’s something so poetic about her. Out of the four lead, Remi was portrayed by the most experience of them all, and i think the experience was exuded in his work. Everything about Remi was so natural and almost effortless compared to the other three, especially in his dialogue, while some have this very rehearsed line of poetry, his are simple, subtle yet effective. Not really the lead but definitely memorable was Eko, which always become the comic relief of the film, the movie would be so boring without him. That being said, the casts could have develop a better chemistry, i wish i could saw them interact and understand why they have their relationship.

I always think movie is designed, and a well designed movie will  be able to contribute to the telling of the story, especially in giving a portrayal of mood, character, sense of space and time. With the tapestry of character available, i couldn’t help to be a bit sad by the level of work put into the dialects by some character, yes, i believe something as simple as dialects can either make or break a movie. Other than that wardrobe and props are some of the elements i always love paying attention to. This movie which expands through certain amount of time (late 90s to 2004) which means the character grows up as the time goes and era changes as well. Some of the wardrobe used in the movie are either too old for its time or something that did not exist back then. Even if we disregard it, i think some character choice of props and wardrobe can be quite out of character. But hey, this is just me, nitpicking on things.

All in all, i was quite underwhelmed by the movie, but the audience in my theatre (especially the female) seems quite content and enjoyed the entire movie. While still better than most Indonesian romance movies, i think this movie still has lot of could-have-beens. I wonder if the flaws i see will be a reference will be essential for the upcoming part two.

But yes, you definitely should check this out in theatre near you, even if its just because you love Dee’s works, or you like Hanung’s movies, or you just want to be supportive of local cinema. Perahu Kertas was released on August 16th, and still playing in Blitzmegaplex and Cinema21, please visit their web to find the screening schedule in theatres near you.

Pictures are taken from google and screencaptured by yours trully from the movie trailer
PS: sorry about the length of this train of thoughts >_<

PERAHU KERTAS
Country: Indonesia
Story and Screenplay by: Dewi Lestari
Directed by: Hanung Bramantyo
Produced by: Chand Parwez Servia, Putut Widjanarko
Cinematography by: Faozan Rizal
Editing by: Cesa David Luckmansyah, Ryan Purwoko
Music by: Andhika Triyadi
Cast: Maudy Ayunda, Adipati Dolken, Reza Rahadian, Sylvia Fully, Fauzan Smith, Tio Pakusadewo, Elyzia Mulachela, Ben Kasyafani, Pierre Gruno, Titi DJ, Kimberly Ryder, Ira Wibowo, August Melasz
Distributed by: Starvision, Mizan Production, Dapur Film
Duration: 112 menit
Language: Indonesia

An afterthought:
Why is it titled Perahu Kertas? is it refering to the origami paper boat Kugy folds  and litters floats on the rivers with?

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