Thursday, October 13, 2016

Athirah



Indonesian | 2016 | 81 minutes | Director: Riri Riza

I must admit that it was the movie's tagline "Inspired by the life of Jusuf Kalla's mother" that tugged my attention to see the movie. Jusuf Kalla, also known as JK, is a man of many facets: a successful entrepreneur, Minister of Trade and Industry (1999-2000), Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare (2001-2004), a politician, and has become Vice President of this country twice (for two different presidents)! He must have had one amazing mother, I thought. 

I also missed the beautiful scenery of South Sulawesi and I thought the movie could transport me there even for a brief period of time.

So on a lovely Wednesday night, I took myself to a date night and watched this movie. There was only six people watching the movie, including me. 

The movie starts with a Bone-style wedding procession of Athirah and Ajji Kalla, and then follows the Kalla family as they move to Makassar, the capital city of South Sulawesi province.

While the family begins to settle, with children going to school, Puang Ajji's business taking off and Athirah is pregnant with the fourth child, news on Puang Ajji's taking another wife is spreading. Puang Ajji is often absent in the family's house, and this affects Athirah and the children. 

As a proud Bone woman, Athirah keeps her emotion to herself and channels her energy to her family. She starts a business on South Sulawesi-style silk sarong, purchases gold jewelry for investment and dreams of opening a school in Makassar. She stays kind even though her husband ignores her efforts to keep the family intact.

One touching scene is when Ucu (JK's nickname) accompanies Athirah to a wedding reception, and then they see Puang Ajji also attending the event with his other wife. The rickshaw ride back to their home is tear-inducing as Ucu and Athirah stare blankly on the road.     

When the economy situation was going down in the 1960s, Athirah gives the golden jewelry box to her husband to save the company and Puang Ajji just breaks down in tears. I think of this particular scene as the best revenge :).

A beautiful quote in this movie that I remember most is: "You should keep carefully what you believe as the most important thing in your life." Athirah could keep the sadness and the heartbreak, but she chose to be happy and be the driving force to her family.

Although the movie has all the recipe for a good tear, I barely cry my heart out because the bridging between scenes is not smooth. I'm not sure whether it's due to the script or the editing process. Bu I guess there must be a lot of pressures to complete a movie that involve the second man in this country.

Athirah is also screened at Vancouver International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival and Tokyo International Film Festival.

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