Dir: Andri Cung | Dragons & Tigers | Indonesia | 2014 | 101 mins
Oct 01 12:15 pm | The Cinematheque
Andri Cung’s feature takes us on a thirty year, intimately-filmed journey following Rain (William Tjokro), a gay man who is haunted by a life-changing incident in his past. Often poetic and emotionally-charged, the film is about hope, dreams, relationships and the difficult choices we make in life.
Filmed in three distinct acts, the story begins with Rain as a high school student who falls under the spell of a brutish classmate, Kris (Natalius Chendana). Straight-acting Kris behaves possessively with Rain, giving him gifts and insisting on frequent, platonic sleepovers at his parent’s home. Not much happens between the young men until Kris comes home one night drunk, after a date with a girlfriend, and forces himself on Rain. This unsettling incident seals Rain’s acknowledgement of his sexuality, but unhappily, Kris soon disappears from Rain’s life, leaving him in despair.
Fast forward to a few years later, and Rain is now an aspiring photographer who travels to Thailand to cover the annual New Year’s Songkran or water festival. There he meets and is soon caught up in a whirlwind of sex and fun times with a handsome escort Will (Cornelio Sunny), who like Rain is from Jakarta. Soft-focus, hand-held camera work adds to the excitement of this long weekend affair but alas the stars are not aligned for Rain and Will. On the way home to Indonesia, Rain bumps into Kris by chance and their awkward exchange hints that there is some unfinished business between the two men.
In the closing act, Rain, now a thirty-something filmmaker, is invited by the rich and successful Kris to his spacious home in Bali which he shares with his wife Susan (Gesata Stella), Rain’s childhood friend. Rain observes the escalating tension between Kris and Susan, and soon the three characters are dancing around the elephant in the room – do Kris and Rain love each other? After so many years of living a lie, can anyone really find happiness? Watching Susan and Kris face the demise of their marriage is truly heart-breaking. Chendana and Stella deserve recognition for their sensitive portrayal of the deep despair caused by a husband and wife caught in the trap of bad life choices.
Overall, the film is beautiful and dreamy and is definitely a cut-above some of the LGBT-themed films seen in local festivals. During the film’s Q&A period, the director was asked if it was easy for him to make a LGBT-themed film in Indonesia. Cung responded “It isn’t hard to make the film, but it is difficult to distribute and screen the film.” Rather than face censorship from the conservative Indonesian government, Cung and Executive Producer Sendi Sugiharto have made a good choice to show their film at international film festivals. Make your own good choice and watch this lovely film and show your support for LGBT-themed filmmaking in Indonesia.