BUT WHAT MEANS HEART IN THIS HEARTLESS CITY?
unlike other crybabies i didnt shed a tear watching radit and jani (midnite at megaria 1, 13 januay 2008, rp 15000, A9, alone). not for lack of want or trying, i just broke up with my boyfriend and i was all too ready for a tearjerker. i was all too ready for any jerk.
but by the gazillionth time vino g pleaded for more forgiveness more patience more love from the i find it hard too admit surprisingly subtly moving faharani, since he was such a weak-willed ubas junkie, i thought no upi, no, please dont overdo it i beg of you!
it was only when the characters (mainly jani) had to lie and cover up their real feelings like when radit asked what jani was craving for when she got pregnant against all better reasons (they were dirt poor though her parents live in what looks like either menteng or bandung) and she almost told him but then she held back and looked him in the eye and said, ‘bener kok bodoh (thats just their nickname for each other), aku nggak pengen apa2,’ that ok, i was ready to reach for the man next to me, but then radit replied, ‘kalau kamu pengen apa2 kamu bilang ya, bodoh,’ and i wondered if the man next to me wd mind being vomited on.
its not like upis lost her touch with little quirks that we humans do when sad, little funny things that make things even sadder, like when in realitacintamatiku vino gs kid brother sent him what looked like a cloying letter begging him to come back but then when he opened the envelope there were only three dirty creased rp 1000 notes, or here when jani complained she was hungry and radit u resourceful quick-thinking junkie u, without blinking an eye started a word game (d, guitarist, deddy dores!) and lo and behold jani forgot the growling in her stomach and i felt like i had to hand it over to u upi u really know how under duress we silly bodoh humans can quite often be perfectly capable of genius.
radit and jani are married, live in a kontrakan in a rumah susun, no aircon, the walls are customised by tembok bomber, polaroid photos of the happy indie couple everywhere, lucky strike pepperita menthas strewn on the floor, are so good-looking and perfectly scruffily dressed in hot pants, leopard print boots, skinny leather jackets, skinny black jeans, vintage def leppard hysteria t-shirt, handmade t-shirts with digital prints of each other’s pictures at the front and ‘aku cinta bodoh’ scribbled above them in snowman, radit a struggling musician who had just pawned his guitar for more smack and is waiting for an answer from a record company about the demo tapes he sent them many moons ago (bodoh obviously too wasted or, haha, too stupid to realise the power of myspace) and jani just got sacked from her waitressing job at a café because radit is a jealous bastard and nearly killed her boss for daring to flirt with his totally hot(pants) wife.
in the beginning of the movie i thought, theyre too good-looking and her parents too rich for me to believe that their fears of getting evicted from the kontrakan because they were 2 months’ behind on rent, and eletricity and water bills, their fears of LIFE, were real. after all she cd always go back to her parents. radit wore a black vintage senen t-shirt with a picture of a pink cadillac and the words in neon pink: cadillac dreams, and i thought, well if you just swallowed yr struggling musicians pride and moved in with her parents they wd buy you a cadillac. but thats kinda unfair. because my parents offered to buy me a cadillac yesterday but life in this city does still freak me out every now and then. this city can turn on you, against you, any time, or i think at least thats what this city makes you think.
so this is the crux of the movie, and perhaps of all recent indonesian movies set in the urban concreteforest of jakarta: not to put too fine a marxist point on it, just how much of an individuals angst, anxiety, fear, economic, relationship-wise, existentially, is caused by his/her self-pity or the unforgiving, bourgeois, dog-eat-man less-than-human nature around him/her?
and of course this film doesnt offer any answer to that question. upis got at least one finger on the pulse though, her message to radit and jani seems to be, unite and take over! but shes too much of a realist to let that happen. spoiler alert: radit surrendered to the historical materialism of this former VOC port and tricked jani into an ice-cream date at café au lait cikini/the waiting toyota vios of her dad.
that was another scene where a character this time radit perhaps for the first time had to lie and vino g hitting himself on the head leaning on the mouldy walls of an alley in cikini raya the old artery of this city and trying hard not to watch or hear jani’s i’m-a-woman-abandoned-hear-me-roar cry, gave his best performance, this time, without saying a word.