Matter of factly, there’s nothing unprecedented about this movie. Several storylines under a central theme? Movies like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve from Hollywood, LOVE or 7 Hati 7 Cinta 7 Wanita from local production also offer such premise. Each story is directed by a different person and all of ‘em are female? Well, Perempuan Punya Cerita placed its footing years ago.
What’s new is probably that this movie is directed by novice directors who used to pose in front of camera and now took a crucial role behind the scene. I won’t address them as celeb-turned-director (or celeb-turned-politician-turned-director for one of ‘em) for now, just because. This oo-turned-oo is worrisome because they are not the most qualified personnel in the new field. Public will be skeptical; the pressure is on them to prove their merit; and I hope this is a serious project, not a trial-and-error one i.e. let’s-make-one-and-see-how-people-react-to-it.
Rectoverso is a movie adaption based on the anthology with the same title written by Dewi Lestari. I haven’t read any of her oeuvre but have heard a lot about her writing style or allegedly ‘heavy’ contents. Altho presenting the universal theme of love — the unconfessed one to be exact — since the original author is Dee, we can expect to see extraordinary storylines. Of course under the condition that the production team is able to translate nuances effectively onto the wide screen.
Malaikat juga Tahu: an imperfect who loves perfectly, not only with his heart, but also with his soul.
Director: Marcella Zalianty
Scriptwriter: Ve Handojo
Setting: at home
“Seratus sempurna. Kamu satu lebih, lebih sempurna.”
Abang (Lukman Sardi) is someone whom society would label as abnormal or crazy, or in ameliorative term as intellectually challenged. However, he ain’t stupid; he’s just trapped in a body that hinders him from fully expressing his being. He has ears for music and able to play violin, is organized and schedules laundry based on day and color, and is fixated on building tower of soap boxes until it reaches a hundred. Besides the caring and patient Bunda (Dewi Irawan), only Leia (Prisia Nasution), a lodger, looks at him with kind eyes and treats him dearly. One day, Abang’s normal and good-looking younger brother Hans (Marcell Domits) comes for a brief visit. Leia falls for him. Bunda realizes Abang’s love is impossible but worries that Hans-Leia togetherness will hurt him futher. Hans can love other women, but Leia is Abang’s only option.
Need I say more? That says it all. I’m familiar with the plot, thanks to the same-title song and accompanying music video released years ago. I knew where the road leads to yet it’s still giving me a heartbreak. What a dilemma. Someone loves you with heart and soul, but what to do when you cannot return the favor?
Scene stealer: Lukman Sardi
Hanya Isyarat: admiring his thoughts and way of thinking, falling in love though can only see his back and not even knowing the color of his eyes.
Director: Happy Salma
Scriptwriter: Key Mangunsong
Setting: by the seaside
“Aku jatuh cinta. Aku jatuh cinta pada seseorang yg hanya sanggup aku gapai sebatas punggungnya saja. Seseorang yg hanya sanggup aku nikmati bayangannya tapi takkan pernah bisa aku miliki. Seseorang yg hadir bagaikan bintang jatuh, sekelebat kemudian menghilang begitu saja tanpa sanggup tangan ini mengejarnya. Seseorang yg hanya bisa kukirimi isyarat sehalus udara, langit, awan, atau hujan…
Tapi sekarang justru menurut aku sahabat aku itu orang yg paling berbahagia. Dia bisa begitu menikmati punggung ayam karena cuma itu yg dia tau. Sedangkan aku justru orang yg paling bersedih karena aku tau apa yg ga bakal pernah bisa aku miliki.”
Is it possible, to like someone whose eyes (or face) you haven’t seen before? Even when he’s merely a few meters away? What is the probability that he always sits with his back facing you? It’s a bit farfetched imo, but that’s what “Hanya Isyarat” is all about.
Five (mailing list?) friends who enjoy traveling go together on a trip to (what looks like) a serene island with beautiful coast. Al (Amanda Soekasah), the only female of the group, never quite joins the other four and takes her own sweet time sketching the back of a certain guy she’s attracted to. (Why go together if you’re not gonna mingle?) When they’re finally able to lure her into the cycle, a contest of who has the saddest tale is proposed, the winner of which can have his/her whatsoever wish fulfilled. Three of ‘em retell what prompted them to travel, ‘The Guy’ Raga (Hamish Daud) shares a divine experience and how he’s reached the self-actualization phase, while Al recounts a tale of her and her friend who are both related to ‘back’.
The story’s charm lies in figurative verbiages and narrated life’s saddest stories. The problem lies in the cast. Al’s rather flat, but Raga’s totally stiff and uncharming. Al said she likes Raga’s thoughts but it’s Tano (Fauzi Baadila) who does most of the talking, like uttering theories that life is circular not linear and that everything’s in life is interrelated, which are delivered with great inflection. He’s good~ Luckily he’s part of the cast otherwise this story would be dead-boring.
At the end, she is able to know the color of his eyes, and that’s more than enough for her.
Scene stealer: Fauzi Baadila
Firasat: perceptive girl who questions why she’s getting premonition, what to do about it, and whether she can prevent bad things from happening.
Director: Rachel Maryam
Scriptwriter: Indra Herlambang
Setting: on a countryside
“Kalau kita punya firasat tentang seseorang, apa kita harus kasih tau orang itu?”
“Cuma untuk peringatan agar mereka lebih berhati2. Dan kalau aku kasih tau peringatan itu, kejadiannya bisa dibatalin kan?”
“[…] Kamu mau berusaha sekuat apapun, yg harus terjadi pasti akan terjadi.”
“Tapi apa gunanya kita punya firasat kalau kita ga bisa merubahnya?!”
“Kita semua ada disini buat belajar nerima. Saat kita belajar nerima kita akan belajar berdamai…”
Ermm, okay..? Quiet and drawn-in Senja (Asmirandah) who has difficulty settling in seems to enjoy being part of a Premonition Club founded and led by Panca (Dwi Sasono). She likes to bake and has an ace of spades attached to the spokes of her bike’s rear wheel — does it carry any meaning? She’s getting a bad omen recently and she ain’t liking it. She consults Panca about it and ain’t liking his wise responses above. The news of him departing to Padang to visit his ailing mother bothers her but she couldn’t convince him to stay put. She blames herself for unable to change the situation, like how she couldn’t prevent her dad and younger sibling from leaving…
I thought Al’s language is already complicated until I heard Panca’s – highly intellectual my brain cannot keep up. Another thing to note is that the tension is really down and the overall mood is bland – is everyone not liking their part? I mean, even during the regular club meetup it isn’t lively at all. The members don’t share the omens they’re feeling; Panca has to fish for it and he’s the only one giving inputs of the possible meaning behind it – Mr. Know-it-all?
“Firasat” was also filmed at certain angles to give us beautiful scenes, which was so deliberate it’s more blinding than spellbinding. I like pretty shots, but not when it’s so obvious it becomes expected rather than appreciated.
Scene stealer: Widyawati
Cicak di Dinding: love felt through a series of bodily pleasures(?)
Director: Cathy Sharon
Scriptwriter: Ve Handojo(?)
Setting: city life and places
“Kok bisa sih minum (kopi) pahit gitu?”
“Kalau kita minum yg pahit, kita jadi inget kalau di luar sana masih ada yg manis.”
A timid man eyes a glamorous woman across the bar table but is too afraid to make the first move. The woman notices his stealthy glance and approaches him. Saras (Sophia Latjuba) is her name, in case he wants to know (lol), and the man introduces himself as Andre though his real name is Taja (Yama Carlos). She leaves after one hot night. Coincidence meets the two, and she leaves in the morning again without a word. Coincidence then meets the two again at an art gallery.
Eh, what does it have to do with house gecko? Well, Andre is particularly curious of the gecko tattoo on Saras’ abdomen and turns out Taja admires that particular insectivore: “Cicak itu nempel aja di tembok ngejagain manusia dari gigitan nyamuk. Cicak itu binatang yg mempunyai kesetiaan tanpa manusia mempedulikan.” Terus gue mesti bilang wow gitu? Sorry, couldn’t care less about these two.
Scene stealer: cameo from Rectoverso’s directors – itching to appear onscreen or wanting to remind us that it’s directed by five of you?
Curhat buat Sahabat: loyal friend; always listening, always understanding, always watching from the sideline.
Director: Olga Lydia
Scriptwriter: Illya Sigma & Priesnanda Dwi Satria
Setting: at a café
“Aku tuh ga butuh apa2 lagi. aku cuma pengen orang yg sayang beneran sama aku. Yg mau dateng ke rumah waktu aku sakit, jam berapa aja, bawa segelas air putih… Keinginan kayak gitu ga ketinggian kan?”
First of all, I find it weird when close friends use ‘aku-kamu’ instead of ‘gue-elo’.
Typical dilemma of too-comfortable-being-good-friends to confess, risking the friendship. Reggy (Indra Birowo) always lends an ear for Amanda’s babbling about her numerous romance blooms and busts. It is a just another day of Amanda (Acha Septriasa) meeting up with him to share her stories. The difference is, she treats him to a bottle of white wine to celebrate the new her – “no more drama, no more tears.” She’s had enough. It dawns on her that she’s changed herself to be someone her ex-boyfriend wanted when he didn’t even care for her when she’s ill recently. Cue: the quote above. Question is (when) will she finally realize that The One she’s looking for has been by her side since forever and is sitting right before her, right now? (The night she fell so sick and no one was around, Reggy dashed to her house with medicine and a glass of water, then watched her sleep with a guitar on his hand.)
It feels as if Amanda is doing a monologue because she talks so much. The camera also focused a lot more on her face during the main conversation. Thus if she’s casted wrongly, “Curhat buat Sahabat” is doomed. It wasn’t her best, but Acha did good here. Indra Birowo was interesting to watch because Reggy was NOT another comedy role he’s playing out; he did well too. I thought “Curhat’s” setting was minimal – mostly on the sofa talking with several flashbacks to her exes – but “Isyarat” was filmed almost entirely under that hay-roofed hut. This may be totally off-topic, but I think “Curhat’s” plot unexpectedly matches Mailakat juga tahu’s lyrics better than “Malaikat’s”.
Scene stealer: em, Indra Birowo.
I can’t expand the plots further because that’s how far the film tells them. I am awed at how detailed other reviewers can summarize it. At first I felt bad for missing so many points, as if I’m watching but not paying attention. However, there’s no way they can offer such in-depth recap if they haven’t read the book. Either that or they are really that observant. If the former was true, it tells us how many necessary plot points are forsaken. If the latter was true, well, I am sorry but this movie bored me. It moves forward slo~wly with hazy direction and inadequate explanation, the stories aren’t related to one another and don’t culminate simultaneously plus each switch is rather abrupt it’s difficult to follow the plotlines. To top it all, my computer speaker is acting up it’s hard to catch hushed conversations.
Rectoverso goes with the approach of placing puzzle pieces one at a time and revealing the big picture at the very end. Everything eventually makes sense, yet got me thinking, “Eh, so that’s the end of that story? That’s about it?” The closures aren’t definitive, so while the big picture is there, it ain’t whole. Something is missing. These short stories seem simple, but require a bit of thinking to fully grasp them.
What prompted me to Rectoverso was the news that Lukman Sardi won Best Actor in Indonesia Movie Awards (IMA) 2013 recently, which flashed me back to the magic of Malaikat juga tahu song and its beautifully shot music video also modeled by him. Allowing/having him to reprise this less-than-normal role, the mood and characterization are kept consistent (one fewer point to compare, phew~).
However, nothing beats the original; or, let me rephrase this to give adaptations more justice: it’s very hard to one-up the original and adaptations tend to disappoint. In this case, I still prefer Dee’s to Glenn’s song version, and though “Malaikat juga Tahu” is the story I liked best in Rectoverso, for me the four-plus-minute music video captures and then portrays the gist more artistically, with a deeper level of earnestness and believability. “Malaikat’s” ending scene is delivered with such intensity it’s impossible not to shatter your heart *bow down to Lukman Sardi and Dewi Irawan*, but still…
As you can see, it’s impossible to avoid the vicious war cycle of comparison. Like it or not, those who are familiar with the pilot work will draw comparison table. So, the most feasible strategy that I came up with is to practice either or — either the book or the movie. If you’ve read and liked the book, it’s safest not to succumb to temptation unless you’re ready for the worst. If you haven’t but are interested, at the very least go watch the movie. Nevertheless, I believe the two go hand-in-hand in terms of promotion. Avid readers will impetuously flock the cinemas, and satisfied movie-goers will check the book out. Symbiosis mutualism.
Reading requires concentration to digest the plot and plenty time-allotment to finish the pages it’s relatively easier to opt for two-three-hour movie instead. I enjoy reading, but weighing on how long it took me to finish Sophie’s World and I still stall on Three Cups of Tea (amongst other unread titles), watching serves as a friendlier (and quicker and arguably cheaper) option for me at the moment. A couple hours to watch, a couple days to review, yeah…
Rectoverso; Cinta yang tak Terucap
Director: Marcella Zalianty, Rachel Maryam, Happy Salma, Olga Lydia, Cathy Sharon
Production: Keana Production & Communication, 2013
Cast: Lukman Sardi, Prisia Nasution, Dewi Irawan, Amanda Soekasah, Hamish Daud, Fauzi Baadila, Asmirandah, Dwi Sasono, Widyawati, Sophia Latjuba, Yama Carlos, Tio Pakusadewo, Acha Septriasa, Indra Birowo