Janji Joni

30 May

Joko Anwar knows a thing or two about films, and for sure, he’s having a good time in it.

Why? Because to him, a film has to please himself, which eventually will lead to pleasing the audience.

Indeed, the joy was infectious in his directorial debut here, a film that enhances his liking and expertise about the film study itself. Yet, the premise seems fresh, for the film differs itself from any other film-about-film in terms of the angle it chooses to base the story on. This time, Joko cleverly avoids the usual overused story of film-making process and its chaotic madness surrounding it. Instead, Joko dares to narrate his film from one side we often overlook in our cinema-going experience: a film roll carrier.

We may cheer for the refreshing take on how rare the blue collar story being brought up to be the center of attention in a world often associated with glitz and glamour, yet the question that prevails is whether the presence of the film roll carrier has its own distinction to make this film different from any other films.

There can be no definite answer for the query as we follow the film and immediately be charmed by some strong premise of eye catching opening scenes and a few comical early scenes. The story then follows the adventure of Joni (played by the surprisingly beefy Nicholas Saputra), who works as the film roll carrier and on one eventful day, his bag containing the film roll is stolen. Strange and illogical as it may seem, this is the playful time of Joko in disobeying the rule of chronological order of time, instead filling the screen with larger-than-life experiences of Joni in meeting up with some distinguishable characters who often pose threats to steal the spotlight from the main character, Joni, himself.

But really, who cares?

Nicholas, who seems to be at ease playing the title role here, looks enjoying a good time to be surrounded by great number of more talented cast. If those actors have to be reduced to be having mediocre presence, then this has got to be something worth sacrificing in order to keep up the light atmosphere of the film. Particularly Rachel Maryam, one of the better actors in Indonesian film scene who is not given a chance to develop her character to be either likeable or be a villain. Instead, her presence suggests that this film has many disposable statures that provided being removed, the film would still go on well.

Janji Joni

All in all, the key to enjoy the film is to set aside the deafening soundtrack (something that Joko still needs to work on more), and to furthest extent, save the cynicism of endless debate on how an Indonesian film should be, Joko gives us something worth noting:

When was the last time we had a good, genuine laugh in cinema watching a film made in Indonesia by Indonesians?

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Posted by on 05/30/2005 in English, Film


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