Naomi: It’s different here, Gia.
Anggia: Well, pretend this is New York.
Naomi: (pause) …It’s not
Every year i only saw a handful of local films (this year alone i’ve only seen 3 other film so far). And usually i found one that would eventually love and would watch over and over for years. It’s still halfway through 2014 but it seems that Lucky Kuswandi‘s ‘Selamat Pagi, Malam’ (In The Absence of The Sun) would be a strong contender. Over the years films like Teddy Soeriaatmadja‘s Lovely Man (2011) and Something In The Way (2013); Selamat Pagi, Malam tries to capture the essence of the city i’ve love/loathe and the stories of the dwelling urbanites within.
Anggia (Adinia Wirasti) returned after years of living in abroad, yet she felt alienated in ‘home’town, Jakarta, and tries to find solace through her attempt of recognition with her old friend, Naomi (Marissa Anita). Ci Surya (Dayu Wijanto) has just lost her husband. In fact, she lost her whole life because he was her life. But everything become different when she found out about the secret he kept and found that her life was based upon lies that involved another women named Sophia (Dira Sugandi). Indri (Ina Panggabean) is a towel girl at a gym who wants a to be swept off her feet by a prince charming who can elevate her social status. But what would she do when her expectations does not match the reality. In one melancholic night, we witness the three women experienced the ever-changing jungle of Jakarta in the path that they’re choosing.
One of the first thing you’d notice is the sociocultural criticism geared towards the lifestyles of the urban dwellers (just be honest my dear fellow indonesian, you’d see one or two reflections of yourselves up there on the silver screen): Socializing through social medias instead of conversing with your friends who sat right there with you, eyes glued to a screen of one of your two (or more) smart phones, ordering overpriced meals because they sounded fancy and french when in fact it was just a common local delicacy, etc, etc. These kind of hypocrisy existed in various levels of socio-economic level and existed in different generations, represented by the three women in ‘Selamat Pagi, Malam’. The film, dug a little deeper though; these women, from their varied backgrounds are looking to resolve their respective predicament, they want acceptance, they are looking for their ii basho (where they belong), and more than anything it is about love. I think this is why ‘Selamat Pagi, Malam’ felt very personal and universally relatable.
‘Selamat Pagi, Malam’ was a little bit stiff for me especially on the very beginning. The transition between one lead character to the next felt a little bit rough and disjointed, although it become smoother by utilizing visual parallel between one scene to the next, which is quite fitting since the stories of these three women unfolds within the same time frame. One of my main pet peeves in Indonesian film are the dialog which often felt either stiff or camp. Fortunately that is not the case in this film. Although, a lot of conversation in the film is using english instead of Indonesian (i usually frown upon those), which is appropriate and necessary in this context. Wijanto as Ci Surya is a stand out for me because of her character deadpan silence, which initially limits the range of her ability to express emotions (merely through gestures and facial expression), actually built up an impact towards the end. Anita is warm and charming as Naomi, managed to become a good match for Wirasti’s Anggia. Wirasti reputation as one of the best working actress in Indonesia’s film industry remain intact in her thoughtful portrayal of heartbroken yet still hopeful Anggia. Her performance was the tour de force of the film. Newcomer Ina Pangabean as the gullible Indri though could benefit from a little subtlety will charm you with her brand of innocent hopefulness. Fortunately with Triandesa as Faisal at her side, the two benefit from his amiable charm and ingenuity. Sugandi’s Sophia was the personification of Jakarta. We never interact directly with her yet she remains in the periphery of our vision just like Jakarta become a backdrop to this film, yet we saw her a golden vision and glamourous façade that stood out in the bleak and dingy bar. Just like behind the glitz and glam of the metropolitan lies the darkness that crawls within the corners of jakarta.
For me, watching this particular film is like falling in love. It felt distanced at first and then as it built up and you get to know it better, you can’t help but to smile and wanting to envelope it in a warm hug, and its flaws just made it even more special. I hope you’d see it when it finally come out on June 19 and you would laugh and cries along with it. Then who knows, maybe you’d fall in love with it too.
PS: I think that climatic scene is heartbreaking, powerful, glorious!!
SELAMAT PAGI, MALAM (2014)
DIRECTOR Lucky Kuswandi | PRODUCER Sammaria Simanjuntak, Sharon Simanjuntak | WRITER Lucky Kuswandi | MUSIC Ivan Gonjaya | CINEMATOGRAPHER Sonny Budi Sasono | EDITOR Lucky Kuswandi | STUDIO Kepompong Gendut, Soda Machine Films | DISTRIBUTOR Kepompong Gendut | COUNTRY Indonesia | RUNNING TIME 94 minutes | RATING 21+ (for mature audience only) | RELEASE June 19, 2014 (ID)
STARRING Adinia Wirasti, Ina Pangabean, Dayu Wijanto, Marissa Anita, Dira Sugandi, Trisa Triandesa, Aming, Sunny Soon, Lina Marpaung, Mayk Wongkar, Paul Agusta
All pictures are provided by Selamat Pagi, Malam & Kepompong Gendut (with editing and changes by KaramelKinema)
DID YOU KNOW? The script for the film was written by Lucky Kuswandi 8 years ago and it was planned to be the his debut feature, but because it was hard to secure the funding at that time, he went to do another project Madame X (2010), before finally returning to this project.