In the days of successive mindless films only highlighting sophisticated use of advanced technology bombarding the cinemas recently, it is more than welcome to have a film that could transport us back to good old times, when a simple story can be told in a very plain, straightforward manner, yet it leaves us yearning for more.
Even the story is the kind of tale often heard in numerous times. It has been repeated in many versions and many interpretations, yet the way the story is brought to life is sometimes what amazes us, while setting aside the fact we have grown familiar with how the story might end.
It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey taken, and how we experience it.
Thus, Ruang gives us the chance to embark on an almost breathless journey from many breathtaking looks displayed on the big screen right in front of our very eyes against the darkened surrounding in a cinema hall. The continuous smooth editing allows us to capture the nuanced atmosphere of the nameless island where the story is set, along with the score, despite often being overplayed, does not glorify or hyperbole the natural beauty to become larger-than-life, but enough to make us feel being taken back to the nostalgia of the past.
The nostalgia theme might be something Teddy Soeriaatmadja has an eye for, as what he previously touched on his previous work, Banyu Biru. But this time, rather than challenging us into the world of surrealism to a raging effect, he wisely penned the script together with Adi Nugroho, making a linear storyline with a crystal clear narrative plot which in turns work pleasantly for us, the audience, and leaving us in amazement. Amazed that only in his second directorial debut, Soeriaatmadja manages to make a successful marriage of filmmaking elements: the technology does not overwhelm the film, but rather, it gives support to a story he has his faith and belief in.
Alas, the story itself does not offer anything new. How many times have we heard and seen a man, in love with a girl he would never be able to have, has to settle for another girl faithfully accompanying him from the beginning without ever asking for anything in return? Such a story does not have any spoilers or twists overtly used in recent films, but to absorb the thematic line, we are not asked to raise our eyebrows to decipher the film.
Because for once, Ruang successfully puts the old-fashioned romance back in a dramatic film we have missed for so long.