It's shouldn't be hard to pull off a decent local film, seeing as expectations here are low. Production standards are average at best and cheap titillation and slapstick are ubiquitous in Indonesian cinema. It's almost as if any film that doesn't in...
It's shouldn't be hard to pull off a decent local film, seeing as expectations here are low. Production standards are average at best and cheap titillation and slapstick are ubiquitous in Indonesian cinema. It's almost as if any film that doesn't include these hallmarks is considered a quality movie.
"Garuda di Dadaku" ("Garuda on my Chest"), the debut of director Ifa Isfansyah, exemplifies this. On one hand, it portrays the patriotism of a young boy with a script that's free of cliches. On the other, its direction and production let both script and subject down.
"Garuda di Dadaku" tells the story of Bayu (Emir Mahira), a young boy who dreams of one day playing for the national football team. His father has passed away and he lives in his grandfather's home, along with his mother, Wahyuni (Maudy Koesnaedi).
His grandfather, Usman (Ikranagara), disapproves of Bayu's ambitions. Usman's son, Bayu's father, also had a passion for football but lived a life of poverty when his sporting career failed. Bayu's ill-fated father ended up a taxi driver and died in a traffic accident, making Usman even more bitter about the game. Wanting to keep the peace with his grandfather, Bayu hides his love for football.
Johan (Ari Sihasale), a coach from the local football school, Arsenal Indonesia, happens to see Bayu playing one day and expresses interest in training him. Johan is connected with the national under-13 team, and if Bayu proves himself, he is likely to make the team.
Bayu secretly trains with Johan and forms strong friendships with those who share his passion. He becomes closer to his wheelchair-bound friend, Heri (Aldo Tansani), who helps Bayu train and hide his activities from his grandfather.
"Garuda di Dadaku" runs on a reliable narrative: A child chases his dream, his elders think they know better and, in the end, everybody learns something. It's a trite plot, but plenty of movies have used it successfully.
Unfortunately, "Garuda di Dadaku" is not one of them. Instead, it feels like a dreary soap opera that doesn't belong on the big screen.
The actors are mechanical in their roles and do not evoke sympathy from the audience. Bayu's passion for football should be the driving emotion in the movie, but it is unfortunately underdeveloped. We know that his father's love of football influenced Bayu but, aside from a short flashback, the remainder of Bayu's past is shrouded in mystery. Flashbacks depicting the father-son relationship could have given some depth to Bayu's experiences.
Scriptwriter Salman Aristo may be a veteran of sorts - he wrote the script for the acclaimed "Laskar Pelangi" ("Rainbow Troops") - but with this script has presented a mere sketch of ideas.
Overdramatic dialogue and a disjointed, at times nonsensical, narrative leaves the audience with little to focus on. In one scene, when Usman cannot find Bayu at his regular hangout, he goes straight to Bayu's football school, even though at no point in the film does Usman know of Bayu's secret life, let alone the school or its location.
The product placements in the film are also far from subtle and are distracting. Usman constantly tells Bayu to wash his hair with Lifebuoy shampoo, a company that sponsors the real Arsenal Football School in Indonesia and, all too blatantly, this film.
The story picks up the pace in the last half-hour and its characters finally become three-dimensional. But it's much too little, much too late, as half of the audience will have probably walked out of the cinema by then.