From what I’ve read, Joko Anwar is an ambitious young director. That is to say the least of him. He is also an ex-film critic and probably still is, used to write on “The Jakarta Post” and one hell of a good writer. But how come he flunk out by letting one predominantly huge logic-hole in this film’s plot? (hint: It’s the pre-recorded scene) Sure, it could be forgiven with the revelation Joko gave to us, but really, is he willing to settle the matter with so simple of an explanation? I don’t really think so. Or more correctly, I don’t want to think that he could be so willing to do so. The answer is perhaps, and what I’ve been trying to look is that it was deliberate, a mocking from Joko for us – if it isn’t for you, then it is for me. I can’t vouch for it, but I’m sure that the the number “42651378” (there’s no number “9”) and the word “Herosase” would surely mean something which if it isn’t apparent in this film, I’d bet it will when his retro-noir third film released sometime in the future. Oh, and I’m quite sure that Joko Anwar is making a trilogy with Fachri Albar. “Kala” was the first, and this, “Pintu Terlarang” is its number two. Both shared the similar retro/noir vibes although I’d be more happy if we didn’t see any handphones (I was very very disappointed when I see a character uses his handphone for the first time).
Gambir (Fachri Albar) is a successful sculptor. His works is renown, his gallery is swarmed with haughty guys who needs an excuse to show the world how loaded he is, he has a couple of best-friends, a loving mother, and a lovely wife to boot. But even before the pop-art magnificently executed opening sequence rolls, we know that he isn’t happy. Even troubled. And for me, added with that mellow, bleak and depressing sound sets the mood for the entire film.
Visually speaking, this film is astounding. I don’t have any complaints whatsoever with it (we’re talking about Indonesian films here so I tried my best not to make any comparison with flicks from overseas), the flyers, the billboards, the peripherals, all the details are carefully (or at least, huge effort are thrown for it) crafted and planted. But the best part, is the sound. On one occasion (can’t remember which), I felt like I was playing Fallout 3, traversing my way from ruined Washington Monument to Capitol Hill, warily trying to look everywhere at once with my Chinese Assault Rifle cocked and ready to fire at anything that moves, all the while I was listening to one of those old songs from the ’50s from Galaxy News Radio. In short, it was bleak, depressing, and humorless surrounding.
“Pintu Terlarang” is a thriller, a bloody one. Its ideas are largely daring if you don’t want to call it disturbing, and by doing so, Joko Anwar has debauched the established mainstream of our movie industry. It’s easily stood-out among most, if not all, of Indonesian films which are still largely concerned themselves with whatever stream they rode on. This film is clearly meant for adult viewers that if we had some standard rating equivalent to MPAA, this film would snatched an R-rating easy. Having said that, I’d totally understand and this film is going to have a short-life in our theaters. It’s a love/hate film and really, there isn’t much people out there who willingly to go to a movie to get depressed and forced to think. Because in my opinion, that’s what Joko Anwar wants you to fell and do. All he needs do now is to create a website, throw in some cryptic clues and you’ve got yourself a cult in the making here. Oh, wait, he’s already did.
As a single entity, casual viewers might see this film as an exploitation and a mind-fuck film. A clearly unique genre for most Indonesian film-makers who still indulges themselves in excelling their craft in peeled-skin make-ups and creatively turns every occupation in Yellow Pages into a ghost (the latest flick, “Hantu Jamu Gendong”. What’s next? “Hantu Programmer”? “Hantu Sekretaris”?) However, it should be noted that the nature of the story, the way the story weaves and spun-around, and the way the pace sets leisurely, might turn some impatient viewers to make a lame joke with their mates. That, and the way the revelation was presented, which had I seen this film as a single separate entity, I’d say that it was sub-par to my expectation, and the extended footnote at the church might leave you with more questions (which could mean either good thing, or bad thing) or dismissively raised your eyebrows with a “huh?”
I had the pleasure to see Fachri Albar and Marsha Timothy in person when I see this film (free T-Shirts and stickers as well). They’re a nice couple, and my wife couldn’t stop staring and drooling over Fachri Albar :D. Well I’m not jumping up and down of my seat for Fachri Albar but during the best moment in the film (the Christmas dinner scene), he was astoundingly brilliant. He himself is solely responsible for the entire length of that scene, and he delivers. Marsha Timothy is surprisingly decent in this scene, as well. All in all, it was one helluva scene, I was shivering timber and it’s not because of the Air Conditioning.
My rating: *** / **** This is what we need, an alternative genre in Indonesian films, a film-maker who isn’t afraid to explore and breach mainstream into a new territory. For what it’s worth, though, I do hope that this film is indeed a part of an unofficial trilogy from Joko Anwar. Either way, I would surely keep an eye out for it.