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Simon Read [Film Festival 05.03.09] movie review thriller



Year: 2009
Directors: Joko Anwar
Writers: Joko Anwar & Sekar Ayu Asmara (novel)
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 9 out of 10

About 5 minutes into Joko Anwar’s latest film and I was convinced that he was actually God. Another 40 minutes and I had realised that he wasn’t really, but that he is rather an incredibly talented director with an imagination the size of a starship. The fact that Quiet Earth had highly recommended this based on Anwar’s previous film Kala had peaked my interest, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into here.

The film opens with Gambir’s latest exhibition, life casts of pregnant women which are causing a stir in the art world and fetching a very good price for the young sculptor. Although his girlfriend, Talyda, is proud of him and his friends appear to be happy for his success, there remains a air of jealousy and rivalry in their conversation which runs throughout the film, and becomes one of the central themes that this picture deals with, along with weakness, masculinity, secrets, pride, infidelity, murder and eventually insanity. Anwar’s film is so layered and mysterious, it’s a compelling and beautiful work.


The actual plot of the movie is not as important as the tone and atmosphere, the sense of barely concealed madness that occasionally bursts onto the screen. However I shall try: Gambir is a sensitive and gentle artist who is chastised by his mother, bullied by his girl and dismissed by his friends. After a visit to an abortion clinic to take care of an unplanned pregnancy, he starts to receive messages in the form of phone calls, graffiti and even fortune cookies that all simply say, ‘Help Me…’ This is the first in a series of sub-plots that run neatly and in parallel with the overall story that sees Gambir pushed to the limit of his sanity and cause an eventual breakdown. There is also ‘The Door’ itself, not as important a plot devise as I had assumed, which leads me to believe that the ‘Door’ in the title may just be the movie itself. A kind of ‘Enter if you dare’ from Joko himself. Gambir wants to know what’s behind it, but Talyda pleads for him not to open it. Care to guess what happens? Not what you’d think. I really don’t want to give any more away, even though I’ve not even scratched the surface of a film that includes blackmail, secret societies, child abuse, Russian roulette, racket ball and a Christmas dinner never to be forgotten (or is that remembered?)

It’s been a long time since a film has come along that’s been so playfully weird and yet so skillfully constructed. For fans of David Lynch and even Alejandro Jodorowsky (comparisons cannot help but be made) this is one for you, a twisted and gleefully bizarre tail. It’s a mystery full of unexpected turns that confound expectations and keep one glued to the screen for the full two-hour running time. Sure, I was confused and trying to make sense of something that didn’t want sense to be made of it, yet at no point did I squirm, yawn or think about dinner, everything worked. The music, colour schemes and especially the insane sense of humour that had the audience at my screening laughing out loud and often (you’ve got to love horror festival audiences, few others will openly laugh at explicit violence).

So, get ye to a screening! Don’t miss this, it’s the genuine article.

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sofian hadi (8 years ago) Reply

Must see movie, my top of the list Indonesian Movie.

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kitkat (8 years ago) Reply

oh dude, i love you! Joko Anwar is a genius, man. If you give 9 out of 10 for the movie, i'd give 11 out of 10 for the SOUNDTRACK! kudos to MANTRA, SORE, Alfred Ayal, Tika and the Dissidents, and sir Aghi Narottama!

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projectcyclops (8 years ago) Reply

Yes, the soundtrack is incredible! Thanks for your comment.

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newginafets (8 years ago) Reply

Great review, makes me want to watch this movie more. I guess i have to wait for the DVD.


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