‘The Window’: An obsession overdue


Titi Rajo Bintang chats with director Nurman Hakim on the set of their new film The Window.( Courtesy of Dash Pictures and Triximages )

With Yogyakarta as a backdrop, this new drama from Nurman Hakim and Nan T. Achnas adopts the surrealistic expression of contemporary art, which the region is fondly known for.

The Window is an artsy films that will leave viewers free to interpret what they have just seen and probably change their minds the next time they see it.

It is not all that abstract as it has a clear storyline and an ending that provides answers, no matter how vague, to the big question that starts the film: Who got Dee pregnant?

Set in May 1998 during student demonstrations in Jakarta demanding a change of regime, when Dewi ( Titi Rajo Bintang ), a freelancer at a market survey firm, receives a letter from home.

Her mother ( Karlina Inawati ) asks her to come home and has attached a tabloid news clipping about a woman with disabilities who’s experienced a virgin pregnancy. “A miracle,” the mother of the woman describes it as.

Dewi rushes to the home she hasn’t seen for 10 years; to a father ( Landung Simatupang ) with acute low-esteem and a short temper to compensate; a mother, who doesn’t say much; and a bedridden older sister Dee ( Eka Dewi Pertiwi ), who is living with cerebral palsy and a growing fetus.

The heroine starts her personal quest of talking to neighbors to uncover the man responsible for Dee’s pregnancy and while doing so encounters long-hidden fears, getting involved in a strange love triangle with her childhood friend Joko ( Yoga Pratama ) and the poster artist next door, Priyanto ( Haydar Saliz ).

Her only solace is the ever-changing view outside the window, where Priyanto hangs his work to dry.

There are some scenes that would usually not get past the censor agency, but Nurman the director says he has talked them into keeping the film intact.

Nurman and Nan took four years to write the script, then two months of preparation and 16 days of shooting.

The film touches on issues around a patriarchal society and women’s empowerment and it is sublime in its execution.

In theaters starting May 12, the film may have been meant as a celebration of the fall of Soeharto’s regime in 1998, although it’s a bit overdue.

In one scene there is a poster of president Soeharto, hung upside, with Priyanto about to paint over it.

Beyond that, the characters in the film are troubled by their own obsessions with power and recognition, or with rubber duckies, or in the case of Priyanto, the face of the Balinese ball sculpture — the Crying Man — and they don’t realize until it may be too late.

The use of a window as a metaphor for one’s perspective is well used. Just as the view outside Dewi’s window changes, viewers can make different judgments of the characters once they look at them in a different way.

There are red herrings tossed up in the first half of the 122-minute film that will make viewers believe it is about father-daughter conflict, or maybe an abusive father.

Landung does an impressive job of portraying a beaten man — probably the most hurt in the dysfunctional family — whose pride is his only weakness.

But Karlina, not Titi nor Yoga who appear on the film’s poster, is the real star.

She pulls off embodying a character who once the daughter of the most powerful man in the tobacco plantation where her husband is employed and, despite her silence, has everyone in the palm of her hand.

It is clear that the writers avoided cliché although the cast, including extras, found difficulty in delivering some lines.

The Javanese fusion music by Djaduk Ferianto perfectly fits the mood of the film.

The Window is a nice getaway from teen flicks, horror and comedy that currently dominate theaters. It presents a disturbing “reality” — something for viewers to truly ponder over.

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