Friday, January 1, 2010

Movie Review: Sang Pemimpi

Assalamualaikum & good morning.

"Bermimpilah, maka Tuhan akan memeluk mimpi-mimpimu"

"Ayahku, ayah juara satu seluruh dunia

On 2010 New Year's Eve, I watched Sang Pemimpi (SP), an Indonesian movie based on a novel by the same name at the cinema. The delay in seeing SP was on purpose, because I prefer the queue for tickets to thin out quite a bit.

To say that SP is a good movie is an understatement. It is a brilliant movie, by a mile. One of the most memorable movies I have watched in 2009.

I have read the book by Andrea Hirata (AH), a brilliant masterpiece by its own accord and IMO the best book of the Laskar Pelangi tetralogy, and was curious as to what direction would producer Mira Lesmana (MR) & director Riri Riza (RR) take in transferring SP to the silver screen. MR & RR had always impressed me, ever since when I first saw their work as co-producers to Rudy Soedjarwo's Ada Apa Dengan Cinta.

MR & RR has done it again. Where Laskar Pelangi the movie has some kinks here & there (otherwise a good movie), SP is nearly faultless. MR & RR hit all the right notes, from the word go.

Some creative licence is always needed whenever a book adapted to a movie. You cant transfer all the ideas brick by brick, because what might work in the books might not work in the movies. The most important thing is the director is able to capture the book's essence and spirit in the movie. In this respect the movie doesn't disappoint.

SP is about daring to dream in the face of adversity, the importance of education & hardwork, the love between father & son, a teacher's role. The bittersweet love of the younger folks.

The camerawork is spectacular. I like the way that the camera is constantly changing it's focus, panning out from background view to the immediate view & vice-versa. The angles that the camerawork use are brilliant. Because every object has it's role in the movie. Some has symbolic meanings. In some scenes, no dialogue is needed. e.g. The dousing of fire and the releasing of the monkey at Arai's home...of moving on and cutting his ties with his past.

MR & RR's attention to detail is astounding. SP being a period piece (set in the 80's and 90's), they manage to convincingly recreate that time period.
The old rickety bicycles, the worn-out calendars, the weather-beaten name planks, the clothing, the hustle-bustle of a shanty town with people walking and cycling in the background, the old motorbikes...all managed to create that engrossing environment.

Music is also used effectively. It was never intrusive, and complement the scenes quite well, especially in the heart-touching scenes of Ikal and his father.

The acting is top-notch. All of the important characters are played convincingly by the actors. Especially: Ahmad Saifullah as the teenage Arai, Azwir Fitrianto as the teenage Jimbron, Mathias Muchus as Seman (Ikal's father), and Jay Widjajanto as Bang Zaitun. Arai was what I imagined him to be: roguish impish character but with a kind heart. Azwir managed to make Jimbron funny & likeable. Jay was spot on as the flamboyant outlandish singer, Bang Zaitun. But Mathias tops it all. His dialogues were few and far in between, but his character as a loving father was expressed by his mannerism & actions, a testament of Bp Mathias' skills as an actor.

And finally, the narrative is superb. The story managed to be: poignant, funny, touching, motivating at different times.

Funny: Jimbron's and Bang Zaitun's character, Arai trying to woo Zakiah Nurmala, the main trio's escapades from Bp Mustar..

Poignant and touching: Arai's intro as an orphan, Ikal's relationship with his father, Nurmi's scene, the friendship between Arai, Ikal, & Jimbron; ...

Motivating and uplifting: the importance of education, the roles of teachers (personified by Bp Mustar and Bp Balia), the desire to dream..

The only gripe I have was that the story felt a little weak in the final 15 minutes. The reaction of Ikal's parents to his letter was a bit out of character compared to the previous scenes, especially for Bp Seman. And the final scenes was a bit draggy (although it did end with a witty line.. ..^^)

But I truly enjoyed Sang Pemimpi.

No other movie have made me cry so earnestly.
No other movie have made me more fond of my father.
No other movie have made me more in touch with my Malay roots.
No other movie have made me more grateful that I have the opportunity to learn and be educated.
No other movie have made me more than ever to want to hope. To have a dream.

To become a Pemimpi like Arai.

That's how good Sang Pemimpi is.

Wassalam.... ^^v