Lovely Man

Lovely Man

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 6:30 PM
Center for Korean Studies Auditorium

Indonesia (2011, 76 min)
Indonesian w/English subtitles

Director: Teddy Soeriaatmadja
Screenplay: Teddy Soeriaatmadja
Cast: Donny Damara, Raihaanun, Yayu A.W. Unru

Anchored by an outstanding turn by Asian Film Award-winner Donny Damara (Best Actor 2012) and bathed in an appropriately seedy neon wash, Indonesian indie writer-director Teddy Soeriaatmadjas Lovely Man is, in a word, lovely. Working with well-worn material about family relationships and father-daughter bonds that is never once in danger of falling into cliché this layered two-hander unfolds over the course of one enlightening and bittersweet night. Soeriaatmadjas astute script and Damaras sensitive, nuanced performance grab viewers from minute one and remain compelling throughout.

Proper, devout 19-year-old Muslim woman Cahaya (Raihaanun) arrives in Jakarta from what can be assumed is her small town home just as the sun is setting. Armed with a piece of notepaper and a few rupiah, shes in the city on a search for the father she hasnt seen since she was four. Asking neighbors and shopkeepers in the area he lives in for Saiful gets her blank stares in return. When they finally figure out she means Ipuy, they point her in the right direction and say hes working around Taman Lawang. Cahaya, naturally, goes looking for an office building or store.

When she locates Ipuy (Damara), she finds a transvestite prostitute plying her trade on the streets. In the initial minutes after encountering each other, both are shocked at the turn of evens. The innocent Cahaya is crushed at her fathers choices; Ipuy is horrified to see the daughter he willfully left behind.

And this is where things get interesting in Lovely Man. Soeriaatmadja plays with our expectations and perceptions of who Cahaya and Ipuy are while systematically dismantling those perceptions. Both are on a steep learning curve, and as the night wears on assorted buried truths and insecurities and come to light. Each makes their own specific sacrifices in order to connect with the other, however briefly, and each subtle revelation lends itself to reinterpretation of the characters. -ester-hutabarat, IMDb.com

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