…If someone commits to adultery, its a sign that this person has lost his mind, putting himself in the level of animals who only has beastly desire.
Teddy Soeriaatmadja‘s Lovely Man was one of my favorite Indonesian film last year. An endearing family drama between a transvestite worker and his devout muslim daughter with the backdrop of Jakarta’s underbelly culture. His newest feature film, premiered at the 63rd Berlinale Panorama section (along with similarly theme Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon), of sexuality and intimacy.
Ahmad (Reza Rahadian) live his mundane life everyday in his solitude: attend prayers at the mosque, listen to his misogynistic co-workers talked about their conquests, drive taxi at the dead of the night where he secretly beat one off with old magazine cut-outs, went home and masturbate on bootleg porn, then sleep. His world changes when he met one of his neighbor, a prostitute named Kinar (Ratu Felisha) when she’s selling her body in the seedy part of Jakarta. They connect after one night his taxi was hired as a place for Kinar and one of her client to do the deed. Smitten and feeling chivalrous, Ahmad wanted to save Kinar from her sinful life and the claws of her pimp (Verdi Solaiman).
What you probably would notice first is the film not too subtle contrast between Ahmad’s penchant for masturbatory releases and sex in general, against the religious and moral belief from friday prayers sermon and Quran. A socio-cultural critic aimed at the general population where the ambiguity between religious boundaries and moral dilemma collides with mortal desires that colors modern Jakarta and many other cities in Indonesia.However that alone was nowhere near enough to save the film. Ahmad’s mental transformation was as predictable as the end result yielded from his clash with the Pimp. Eventhough Reza Rahadian is my favorite actor in indonesia film industry, and probably one of the best out there, he did not pull enough weight as the lead. Ratu Felisha outshined him by adding a layer of burnt out soul to an archetypal sex worker. The film have similar visual to Lovely Man, probably from the craft of cinematographer Ical Tanjung. Grainy picture with murky colors with bokeh scattered on the screen, giving a touch of beauty to an otherwise bleak atmosphere to the film.
I saw the film when it was screened for a special event during Q! Film Festival back in october and the director and the actors were in attendance.I noticed there are threads between his two films (Something in The Way of and Lovely Man), both similarly feature life of jakarta’s underworld, with sex as a prominent theme. both have an honest realism feel to it, and they look similar (should be like made into some kind of trilogy). When i point this out to him in the Q&A, Soeriaatmadja never intend to coincidently do so, he wanted his story to be honest and real and his idea developed from the reality he witnessed in Jakarta. For Reza Rahadian who’ve previously tackled different characters (from an impotent husband to Indonesia’s former president) this is probably the darkest role i’ve seen him in. In the Q&A his response was that he wanted to do something different from his previous role. Even though it was not entirely successful, i would love to see him in more roles like this one, granted he should got the ones with good script, of course.
Divided into several chapters, Something in The Way, begin with a gutsy opening for a local film something i hoped the story will follow through. It could be a great tragedy as how the story are concluded. I wish there’s a little more in the script, especially at the middle part. It’s not a terribly good film, but there’s definitely something in this film worth seeing.
SOMETHING IN THE WAY (2013)
DIRECTOR Teddy Soeriaatmadja | PRODUCER Teddy Soeriaatmadja | WRITER Teddy Soeriaatmadja | CINEMATOGRAPHER Ical Tanjung | MUSIC Bobby Surjadi | EDITOR Revis Santoso | COUNTRY Indonesia | RUNNING TIME 89 minutes | RATING Not Rated | RELEASE February 8, 2013 (Berlinale)
STARRING Reza Rahadian, Ratu Felisha, Verdi Solaiman