Ernest & Celestine

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Enter the world of mice and bears, where there could be no more prejudiced race/clans/animals–however they’re classified as, except for the two main characters: Ernest & Celestine. The rule is simple: Bears live up on the ground, while the mice underground, each race build their cities and feeding their children with stories full of overgeneralization and stereotypes of the other living on the other side of the ground, scaring them so they would always fear one another, if not hate, never allowing them to break the prejudice and live side by side as friends and companions. Again, all of them basically obey this rule, except for the two main characters.

In the beginning of the movie, we are taken to Celestine’s childhood, where apparently she had already been against the current mindset that bears are scary enemies who’d crush and eat mice at the sight of them. She adorably drew a picture of a bear and a mice together, smiling to each other while her friends were busy telling her that such thing is just impossible. Not the mention the adult mice who kept brainwashing them with scary stories of the “Big Bad Bear.”

IMG_0137.JPGNevertheless, Celestine grew up and maintained her fascination toward bears as she roamed the city of bears, to collect the bears cub lost teeth, just like the “little mouse fairy,” to bring those teeth back to her city where apparently these teeth are extremely important for a mouse’s wellbeing, as they lost their inability to talk comprehensibly should they ever lose any of their incisors. Bears’ teeth are a perfect replacement for these missing incisor because they’re apparently very strong. This explains why basically most mice live to collect teeth and later become dentists. This is also expected of Celestine, of course, but, as usual, against all odds, she never wanted to become a dentist because she’s too busy and too fascinated observing bears and drawing them.

IMG_0136.JPGThen she met Ernest, an aspiring musician and entertainer who barely had enough to live by to from becoming a street musician. Contrary to what his real desire, he was also expected to be something else: a judge.

So these two find each other, sharing the same unfortunate fate, fighting against the two societies’ expectations and stereotypes, to show that a bear and a mice truly can be friends with each other.

Ernest & Celestine is adapted from a children book of the same name by Gabrielle Vincent, and later made its way into one of the 2013 Oscar nominations for animation film (not really sure if this is exactly the category). The movie itself is entertaining and (as for me) engaging as we are drawn into the world of Ernest & Celestine, and follow their adventure as they were chased by the police force from both worlds.

At the same time, being a children story, it is also quite reflective, in my opinion, because the stereotypes between the two races also remind me of similar phenomenons that could still (and still does) happen in the current society system with their expectations and overgeneralization. I might be overthinking it, but the story itself is, I think, quite thought-provoking. Of course, this does not make the story itself too heavy and difficult for children to follow, unlike another animation I’ve watched earlier a couple years ago, The Painting (Le Tableau). Another strong point of this movie is also, I think, the animation style, presented like sketches and pastel colors, simple but attractive, which is quite different from most animation movies these days. A unique and interesting find, I must say.

Watch the trailer here.

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Habibie & Ainun (2012)

This is a biographical movie telling the love story of the former Indonesian president, B. J. Habibie and his one and only wife, the late Hasri Ainun Besari (later Ainun Habibie). Adapted from a book with the same title, written by Habibie himself, this movie takes the audience into a roller-coaster of emotion revolving around their life. Going back to the days when they were together in high school, the movie portrays further their life onwards up to the day Ainun passed away, which means this include the day they got married, moved to Germany, and then went back to Indonesia and the day Habibie became the vice president and later, the 3rd president of Indonesia.

“Habibie & Ainun” Movie Poster

The lead actor, Reza Rahadian, is one of the main reason I so badly wanted to see this movie. I saw him acted before in three different movies which I’ve come to like: Alangkah Lucunya (Negeri Ini), 3 Hati 2 Dunia 1 Cinta, and Tanda Tanya, and his performance in this movie haven’t change my opinion of how good he is as an actor. I never really saw him act like he was in the movie–he became a completely different person, with a different attitude and even the way he altered his intonation and articulation when he speak is brilliantly meticulous. Of course, I might be clouded by me being a fan of his already, but I do think it deserves an applause.

As for the lead actress, the prominent Indonesian actress Bunga Citra Lestari played Habibie’s wife, Ainun. I believe that Bunga (also known with her initial: BCL) is a very good and talented actress, and she did played Ainun wonderfully. My favorite scene is probably (SPOILER ALERT!) the one when she got homesick during the early years of her marriage with Habibie, and she tried to hold it back inside, but when her husband asked, she finally spilled and cried. Another one is the scenes when she got diagnosed with ovarian cancer and finally hospitalized. Probably one of the most touching scene throughout the movie, we could see a very strong connection between Habibie and his wife when he got anxious waiting outside the operation room and insisted to get inside and accompanied his wife because he thought she might be worried about him. Then when he finally got in after the operation, he asked gently what got Ainun worried sick. She weakly shook her head when he asked whether she felt any pain (there’s one more question but I forgot), but she finally nodded her head when he asked whether she’d been worried about him instead. Then he reassured her that he’d taken his meds (he was diagnosed with tuberculosis early in the movie, when he was still young). Most certainly, this got me and the girls sitting next to me sobbing badly. And the way BCL depicted Ainun’s last days on bed, when she got very sick that she could not talk and had to struggled hard to merely lift her hands was really touching and brought me into tears. However, I don’t think this movie has really shown the extent of what BCL could do with her act. For me, at least, it’s not enough.

Reza Rahadian as Habibie & BCL as Ainun

One thing that got me pretty disappointed is the lack of a full portrayal of the time when Habibie got involved in politics and then elected as the vice-president to the late Soeharto. All we see is Habibie got home one day after the night before promising Ainun a cruise trip, telling her that they might have to delay that because he’s gonna be the vice president of Indonesia. Of course, later I remembered that this is a story of both Habibie AND Ainun, not just Habibie himself, but still, I was hoping they would show more of his journey of becoming the vice president. But again, I haven’t really read the book itself, Habibie & Ainun, so I don’t really know whether Habibie also wrote a lot about that one as well or not.

But overall, I really enjoy the movie, and despite usually preferring other movies than a cliché and cheesy romance, I’d definitely looking forward to buy the DVD later. …or maybe I again got clouded by this idea that no matter how cheesy these romances are, they did happened for real.

I’m not sure whether this is a movie guys would want to see because I know several guys who did watched it and liked it, and I also know those who lacked interest in watching it (which made it so hard for me to find companion to watch it), but I’d definitely recommend this movie.

FYI, this movie is delivered in two different languages: Bahasa Indonesia and Germany, but movies like this usually got me in doubt of how good the foreign language is in the movie (in this case, the Germany language), so I don’t know whether the Germany spoken by Indonesians in the movie a natural, good Germany or a broken one instead, but considering the frequency of the language spoken (which is a lot), I’d assumed that it has to be quite good, at least.

P.S. Oh, and this is definitely a tearjerker.

Lewat Djam Malam (After the Curfew) (1954)

Lewat Djam Malam (After the Curfew) is actually a 1954 Indonesian movie which was played in the Cannes Film Festival last May, and was restored by the Italian L’immagine Ritrovata, funded, not even by the Indonesian government, but instead by the National Museum of Singapore and the World Cinema Foundation, based on an article I read in The Jakarta Globe.

This is an old movie, even older than my parents, so why oh why, instead of making a newer version of the film, they insisted on restoring it instead? This has sure piqued my curiosity.

A. N. Alcaff as Iskandar

The movie summarize the story where idealism meets reality as Iskandar, who, as a soldier, once fought for the Indonesian revolution, hoping that the country he fought for would become a better country, which would provide a better future for its citizens, ended up in a broken heart as he found out that apparently the country turned out to be nothing at all like what he’d imagined. First of all, as he returned to a society life in Bandung, West Java, and stayed at his fiancé’s house along with her family, he found that readjusting to a life post-independence wasn’t as easy as he thought. Initially he told his fiancé, Norma, that all he wanted was to live a quiet life in the suburbs as a peaceful farmer with Norma by his side. But as he started his first job in the governor’s office due to his future father-in-law’s pressure, he started to question himself. Whether his very definition of his country actually exist at all. Whether his fight back then during the revolution was really a fight for the cause of the country he loves. Then he met his friends who used to serve with him in the army, and he became even more brokenhearted finding out that the fight he fought was merely to fulfill his the personal ambition of his superior, Gunawan to get his hands on wealth and fortune. Iskandar had suspected all along as he saw how the figure he used to honor and follow became a part of a corrupted capitalists. And despite trying her best to understand him, Iskandar didn’t think Norma ever understood exactly his grief of the nation’s fate going down, because Norma came from a bourgeois family, belonged to the upper class society, who were not familiar with despair, hunger and tarnished wishes. On the other hand, when he met Laila, a prostitute kept by his former subordinate in the army, Puja, he saw the suffering of the low class society as they could do nothing but hope for a better life they’d never cease to wish for, yet in the end, the hope stays merely as a hope, an unfulfilled one.

Laila

As the frustrated Iskandar tried to resolve this problem and agitation on his own, his own fate was determined toward the end of the movie.

“Siapa yang tidak kuat melawan kelampauan akan hancur.” ~Gafar, Lewat Djam Malam

“Those who cannot fight the past would vanish.” ~Gafar, After the Curfew (roughly translated by me)

“Lewat Djam Malam” old movie poster, taken from Wikipedia

Starring A. N. Alcaff as Iskandar and Netty Herawati and directed by Usmar Ismail, I think this movie is totally a must-watch one, despite me being put off now and then by Laila’s brief-but-constant singing in a few scenes (I mean, they didn’t have Sinetron back then, right?). I agree with the review I read in the Hey Diaspora! magazine that the movie deserves more attention, because of its first class quality in the themes, plot, and act. Of course it’s incomparable in the matter of cinematography and sound effects (it’s a restored movie, come on!) with the modern-day movies as they did admit that the restoration took “great pains,” but overall, I was glad that I decided to watch the movie. Yet despite all that, there were hardly 20 audiences in the theater when despite it being only the 2nd day it was played in Surabaya (and only one theater out of fifteen), and less than a week after I watched it, it was no longer played when I checked the 21 Cineplex website. Too bad. I love every part of the movie (yes, despite the brief-but-constant singing), the story, the act (how deeply explored each character was, in my opinion), the language–oh yes, the language! The movie used a more formal, Malay Indonesian, or more of what I’d like to refer to as the Transatlantic Indonesian. There are many terms and expressions unfamiliar to the Javanese-Indonesian used around me nowadays, such as, “Mengekori sarung kebaya,” (means chasing women; “sarung kebaya” refers to the outfit worn by women at that time), or “Kita mesti gasak semua penghalang” (means “We must banish all the obstacles,” but “gasak” is a word seldomly used in the contemporary Indonesian now, as far as I know). And I can’t even believe that I’ve forgotten the existence of the word “Semampai.” I remember getting really excited as the movie started, seeing so many Indonesian words in the movie credits (the verb “Mempersembahkan” instead of “Presents,” “Tjerita Asli dan Skenario” instead of “Original Story and Scenario,”Iringan Musik oleh” instead of “Music Accompaniments by,” or “Produksi” instead of “Production”), and all of them are written using the old Indonesian Spelling (“Tj” for “C”, “Dj” for “J,” also “J” for “Y”). Yes, yes, I’m such a nerd, but those are words and language that I don’t think I ever find in the modern day movie nowadays (as we now become more and more of an English mania).

As for the title itself, “Lewat Djam Malam” which is translated into “After the Curfew”, although I kind of think “Past Curfew” might fit better, refers to the curfew first pointed out at the beginning of the story, which was 10 PM, and the scenes occurred after the set curfew at that time.

I kept thinking that I would definitely go and watch the movie for the second time, but now, knowing that it’s not even played anymore, I suppose I’d go for the DVD instead. Yes, it’s worth-watching, and yes, now I see why they went through “great pains” to restore an old movie such as this.

* * *

“Kepada mereka jang telah memberikan sebesar-besar pengorbanan njawa mereka

Supaya kita jang hidup pada saat ini dapat menikmat segala kelezatan buah kemerdekaan…..

Kepada mereka jang tidak menuntut apapun buat diri mereka sendiri.”

~Lewat Djam Malam

“To those who have given the biggest sacrifice in the form of life

So that we who live today could have freedom and all that come with it…..

To those who did not pursue their personal desire.”

~After the Curfew, roughly translated by me (they did have the translation in the movie, perhaps a more proper one)

The Raid: Redemption (Serbuan Maut)

I’ve been noticing (and waiting impatiently) for the movie The Raid, ever since I saw my cousin posted its trailer on his facebook wall. I was awed by it, and even more surprised that this movie had gone international, going to release worldwide. Well, I’m not really that devoted to Indonesian movie industry until after I watched Sang Penari (The Dancer), so you could later confront me for this next sentence: I knew that it’s not the first time Indonesian movie goes international. I don’t really own a complete list of Indonesian movies which have gone worldwide, and what I could think of so far is only Pasir Berbisik (Whispering Sands), which has gotten about five awards in movie festivals, such as the Asia Pacific Film Festival, Singapore International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival and Brisbane International Film Festival–and even up to now, I still haven’t watched the entire movie. I’ve seen it played and watched it for a while in one Indonesian channel once, but didn’t finished watching it eventually. I don’t remember whether it’s because I got bored in the end or because I had to do something else which apparently was more important and urgent than watching Dian Sastro and Christine Hakim.

Anyway, this movie was previously known as Serbuan Maut in Bahasa Indonesia, or just The Raid internationally, but as he explained in his blog dedicated for the movie, Gareth Evans and his team had to make a bit change in it in order for the movie to enter the United States of America. (Seriously, Americans, what the hell is wrong with ‘The Raid’??) Now it’s known officially as The Raid: Redemption. Gareth Evans (the director) also said that this probably is better since he was considering a trilogy–The Raid being the first part of the Trilogy.

The director, Gareth Evans, is apparently a Welsh, and seems like a big fan of Indonesian martial arts, known as Pencak Silat, or merely Silat. Other than guessing this based on all reviews I read from Times to some blogs reviewing this movie, I also assumed this based on watching a movie from the same director, collaborating with the same actor, Iko Uwais, called Merantau. In the one that I downloaded, it has the title Warrior, and I’m not really clear whether this supposed to be the English title for the movie, but the word ‘merantau’ itself doesn’t mean ‘warrior’ at all in English. In Bahasa Indonesia, ‘merantau’ is when you move from your parents’ lovely and comfy house, to a faraway places (mostly big cities) in order to get a better job, to make money, so when you return home, you could give back and repay what your parents had given to raise you and make you a decent person. The process of going away (and being far away from homeland) is called ‘merantau.’ (Seriously English, do you have words for that?) Now, the movie Merantau is also a full action movie. The storyline centers on a guy named Yuda, a guy from Minangkabau, West Sumatera, who went ‘merantau’ to the capital, Jakarta, to teach Pencak Silat to people there. That sure is such a naive and and nice goal for such a young man, but as he met another passenger in the bus on his way to Jakarta, the dream seems like too good to be true. After seeing a young beautiful girl being physically harassed on the street, Yuda ended up protecting the girl instead. Little did Yuda know at that time that the girl was actually one of the victim of human-trafficking business, led by a hot-headed European businessman, Ratger (Mads Koudal). The movie, just like The Raid, is of course, all full-action.

Merantau Movie Poster

Now, as much as I love the action as well as the beauty of the kicks, punches and the blood spattered captured magnificently by Evans, I hate to admit that I’m not a huge fan of the movie. The storyline is very simple, and quite predictable to me. But in terms of action, it blew me away. Super awesomeness.

Well, I’m not here to talk about Merantau, of course, but in one review I once read (I forgot which one, and I’m too lazy to track it back just so I could put the link. I would probably do this later), The Raid is said to be a prequel of Merantau.

It could probably make a perfect sense, especially since the main character and his estranged brother in the movie is played by the same actors in both movies, with the exact same relationship in their roles, except for the different names for both characters.

Iko Uwais

First of all, Iko Uwais’ character in The Raid: Redemption is called Rama, not Yuda. And this movie starts with the scene where Rama was waking up early, preparing himself by practicing his martial arts, and shalat (Islamic prayer) before he finally woke his pregnant wife, to say goodbye. Of course he said that he’ll be back soon.

Then we’re led to a truck where it’s filled with special cops (described as the Indonesian SWAT team) who were  preparing themselves to ambush a drug lord, Tama Riyadi (played by Ray Sahetapy), living in a 30-storey apartment, which is filled with criminals in most rooms.

Ray Sahetapy

Sneaking their way in to the apartment, they quietly kill and slay the criminals in each room, room by room, and floor by floor. It seems like everything was going really well.

Until they reached the 6th floor, where their existence is finally uncovered.

As the drug lord noticed them through one of his surveillance cameras (the building was apparently filled with cameras everywhere), he told the residents to welcome this unwanted visitors and “have fun.” The task already seems like an impossible task by then, and the future of those SWAT team seems so predictable.

The handsome Joe Taslim, who apparently is also a Judo athlete. Work that six-pack, Joe!

As already suspected by the leader of this ill-fated team, Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim), the team was actually sent for a suicide mission, being a part of a black-ops, and the backups promised to come earlier was nothing but a fake promise. They’re on their own.

As the team breaks and getting separated from each other, Rama (Iko Uwais) also needs to fight in order to survive–and to find his estranged brother, Andi (played by the charming Donny Alamsyah), who turns out is the right hand of Tama the drug lord. In order to do this, eventually he would later fight Tama’s deadly brutal and cruel hitman, known as Mad Dog (played by Yayan Ruhian, also co-coreographed the fighting in the movie with Iko himself).

Donny (also spelled as 'Doni) Alamsyah
Yayan Ruhian

Well, I’m not gonna give you any more spoiler, of course, but I hope my summary tease you enough to buy the ticket and watch the movie yourself in the theater.

Anyway, other than what I’m going to write next, the movie itself has received 3 awards internationally as well as positive critics.

I was actually worried about watching this first since I remember that I don’t really like Merantau. I don’t want this to be another cheesy, all action movie with meaningless expressions and acts. I mean, Iko Uwais (and Donny Alamsyah, hahaha) is definitely a good actor, but there’s not really much exploration in terms of storyline and acting. What he did in 90% of the movie is kick, punch, and show off his skill in Pencak Silat. And boy, isn’t he charming. It’s very obvious that Iko is definitely the man when it comes to Silat. But other than the fighting, Merantau is a cheesy romance, and towards the end of the movie, I was so bored that I immediately deleted the movie as soon as I finished watching.

But apparently, there’s not even 1% element of romance in The Raid, which probably lead to a conclusion that I may not be a huge fan of romance, really (says the woman who’ve read Amanda Scott’s Border Wedding twice and watched Ever After more than 5 times).

Anyway, as you’d probably read in most reviews (if you did read them, hopefully after watching the movie, not before), the movie is purely action, that without the action, it would probably be… super suck.

If you’re the kind of person who’s looking for a meaningful, heavily-themed, and serious movie like A Dangerous Method or Sang Penari (The Dancer), and not a fan of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or Rush Hour, you’d probably be disappointed.

But if you’re crazy about the French movie Banlieue 13 and its sequel, adore Cyril Raffaeli and can’t get enough of Jet Li, this movie is definitely for you.

The movie does reminds me a bit of Banlieue 13 with all its action and plot, although, of course, the storyline is different, along with its setting, character, and style, but I do think they both have similar theme, especially towards the ending of the movie. I’m pretty curious about the sequel already.

Which would mean that I love the movie. Of course this would probably be a contradiction, since I already stated that I don’t like meaningless movie, with cheesy romance and such. But this one does not have a bit of romance in it, and despite its full action scene from beginning to end, again, I have to applaud Gareth Evans for making all the fighting looks so breathtaking, with the detail of each movement, capturing how Rama takes down all his opponents one by one. Oh, and slow motion effects, especially when the leader, Sergeant Jaka fired his riffle is just too awesome to miss. Despite being a very violent movie, I did managed to finish my large-size popcorn throughout the movie, while at the same time, watching Rama and Mad Dog slit their opponents’ throats. Of course, watching with me, you would need to bear the swearing and cursing which I shouted almost every time someone fall, or got bombed, or stabbed brutally, or when Rama awesomely took down his opponent. I guess everybody’s adrenaline got pumped as we got too excited watching all the never ending action because one time, when Rama amazingly took down one of the bad guy so skillfully, the audience around me were clapping their hands, applauding Iko’s mastery in his Silat. A guy sitting next to me was watching the movie with his peers, and he kept praising Iko’s skills, commenting his expertise on Silat with awe.

I do agree with one review I read which says that other than the action, one irrational thing about the movie, more specifically about the main character Rama, is the unrealistic stamina he has. I mean, Rama has been kicked, thrown, punched, despite punching and kicking himself, and fallen down several stories down out the window before landing on a kind of balcony thingy on a lower floor, yet he never seem to show exhaustion or tiredness and still managed to fight till the very end of the movie. I remember the same thing also happen in the movie Merantau. I mean, I know that this tireless trait is one thing that we are always looking for in every hero of martial arts movie. It’s what we always look for in legends such a Bruce Lee, Jet Li, or even the manga character Chinmi from Kung-Fu Boy. But even such legends never seem to own this trait. At some point, they would lose their power and energy, after fighting non-stop for quite a long time. Yet Rama (and Yuda in Merantau) appears to be some kind of superhuman with limitless energy. This might be something to think about for Gareth Evans for the next two sequels. Of course, the chance of him reading this is very little, but I’m hoping to see more of the storyline, and more down-to-earth, weakness, human-alike character for Rama in the so-called sequel, Berandal (meaning ‘thugs/brat’ in English).

Pierre Gruno

Another thing, perhaps, is the contradiction I found as the head of the operation, Lieutenant Wahyu (played by Pierre Gruno) complained to Sergeant Jaka for bringing rookie officers for such a dangerous operation (which is confusing–I mean, who would ever take rookies for that risky business? At the same time, it seems make sense since the operation is indeed, a suicide mission).

…but probably my Indonesian pride also created some biased arguments here, and perhaps explains why I really like this movie, because… it’s an Indonesian movie, for crying out loud! (Says the woman whose movie list is actually filled with Hollywood movies–oh, but I’ve been putting some Indonesian movies as well now.) Whichever it is, I’ve been considering to watch it for the second time. Perhaps this time, anyone would like to come with me?

Waiting For Forever (2010)

I told you I’m pretty outdated.

Actually, I wasn’t meaning to write anything about this movie at all. But I met a friend one day, and as we hang out with other friends and exchanged some movies, she told us all that one movie that she didn’t like despite everybody around her (including me) claimed to like it is this one movie: Waiting For Forever.

And I was like, “What?”

I hate myself when I getting biased like this.

But I feel the urge to discuss, if not argue, this with her.

So I thought I’d write a little something-something about the movie–well, about what I think of the movie, to be precise.

Just in case, I’m writing down a summary of the plot below:

Waiting For Forever tells a story of Will Donner who harbor unrequited love for his childhood best friend, Emma Twist. He’d been in love with her for as long as he could remember. To be precise, he’d been in love with her ever since they were kids. Somehow, this unrequited love reached a phase where Will would “go where Emma’d go.” Put it in a simpler way: he was stalking her.

I didn’t remember whether the movie stated precisely when he started to stalk her (I think it was stated), but it’s been going on for quite a while. Will’s profession as a clown (or entertainer?) allowed him to travel to different places often, which at the same time allowed him to “stalk” Emma.

Everybody but Emma, seemed to know about Will’s unrequited love. Everybody in the town where they grew up. Will’s childhood friend, Joe, and his wife supported Will to express his love for Emma, as well as his brother’s wife. Unfortunately, his own older brother, Jim, didn’t really show the same support and love. In fact, he considered his little brother to be mentally disturbed and kind of a loser, since Will indeed, never earn much and he’s practically homeless due to stalking Emma to various places. He considered Will’s love stupid and well as Will himself.

Makes sense, I thought, since apparently, not only homeless and worry for nothing in the world, Will indeed looked like pretty much mentally disturbed to me, from the way he talked to empty spaces, and stalking Emma. It turns out, later in the move, after Emma asked him why he kept talking to empty spaces around him, Will said that Emma made him believe that his dead parents were always be with him wherever he goes, and he really took the words literally. Will’s parents died when he was a little kid, and he was pretty damn sad about it. The way Emma comforted him and stayed by his side during the saddest time of his life was perhaps the source of his obsession for Emma.

Anyway, I won’t give the complete summary since if you hadn’t watched the movie you probably wouldn’t wanna read any spoiler, and if you had watched it, you’d probably knew the ending already.

I knew that despite I know many people who like this movie a lot, the movie itself had received negative reviews. And I admit that the storyline is indeed, very cheesy.

It’s this silly, unrealistic love story of a madman.

Seriously, if I ever met a guy like Will, stalking me like that, I’d call the police and make sure to bring a pepper spray and an army knife with me everywhere I go to make sure he wouldn’t get any closer to me.

But what interest me is the… eeerrrr…, disposition of each character–the main character, to be precise.

Tom Sturridge as Will Donner

First of all, Will is this gentle, if not soft and weak guy, who believed that he’s born to love Emma for eternity. A guy who seems so naive that he believes in true love and that there could be no other one for him but Emma. And that he lives for Emma alone, which is why, being rich and successful hardly jumped to his mind. He chose to be a clown (or entertainer??) so that he could follow Emma wherever she goes, and to show off his skill in juggling and such. Ever since they were kids, Will always shows off in front of Emma, and Emma was always impressed. Then the fact that he believes Emma that his deceased parents would be by his side forever, just prove how naive (if not stupid) he really was. God, that creeps the hell out of me.

Jimbo

And Will has this brother, Jim, a.k.a. Jimbo, who’s the complete opposite of him. He’s bitter and sarcastic at first, and a bit rude, if not cruel, towards his own brother. You’d think he’s a complete jerk for neglecting his brother, but in fact, as the story goes, it’s shown that Jim was only trying to protect his brother by trying to be the mature one. And with someone like Will as a brother, really, someone has to choose to grow up, and if Will’s not the one, Jim’s gotta be. Then when you’ve had too much of Will (he might have had to deal with Will’s foolishness for years and years), it’s no wonder if you’d feel fed up one day. I guess Jim got tired of looking after his brother, and thought it’s time to teach his younger brother some responsibility.

You could already assume that the two brothers were not in a good term.

What really got me was actually this one scene of revelation were Jim bailed Will out of the jail (Will was suspected of a murder, which was not true at all), and on their way to the airport in order to get home, they reconciled inside the taxi. Wow. I wouldn’t wanna be the taxi driver.

But they reconciled, and that’s probably my favorite scene ever.

Apparently, their parents were not this perfect, loving parents that Will used to describe. From Jim we learned that their mother was actually a drunk, and that every Tuesday, their dad would take their mom to some kind of rehab, and telling their kids instead that they were going to see the matinee. Will was holding onto that belief that his parents were really going to the matinee while Jim insisted on holding onto the truth, and believed that his brother never knew the truth–which leads to his action of hiding the truth from Will. This action, I think, came from an elder brother who got the urge of protecting his younger brother from further sorrow and pain, if I could call it so. Surprisingly, Will revealed then in the taxi that he actually knew the truth, as he told Jim, “There aren’t any matinee on Tuesday, Jim,” and that’s where they finally cried and reconciled as Jim kissed his brother’s forehead with teary eyes.

Will always hold on to a belief that the world is peachy, that the world is beautiful and everything in it is wonderful. The way he told Jim inside the taxi that he knew their mother was drunk and that they never went to any matinee, and when he said later that “The world isn’t always peachy” while he sobbed heavily, was really heart-breaking to me. Then it struck me how the two brothers were such a contrast. They knew the bitter truth about their parents, but one chose to deny it and hide within a naive belief that the world is a nice place. The other one, though, chose to face the truth and dealt with it as he become bitter and bitter about reality and the world.

This makes Jim looks more like the normal person who we used to see in everyday life. He deals with bitterness, and he moves on. Meanwhile, Will… well, he’s running away from it, and decided to built a world of his own, made from naiveness and false reality. At some points, I wanna believe that this partially affects Will’s choice of profession. He didn’t seem to care a bit about tomorrow. If he did, I didn’t really got the impression in the movie. All he cared about is following Emma, and that he earned enough to buy some food for the day. Tomorrow’s another day. Which is why he cared little about where he’d live permanently. And this is why Jim considered him homeless and loser (or something similar to that).

Another thing that really struck me is how the actress and actors interpret their characters and expressed them in the acts. I really like it when Tom Sturridge played a nervous Will, who seemed to struggle so hard only to express his love to Emma. He was shown to be struggling to breathe, and he was trembling like he was going to collapse. And then the teary taxi ride scene, how he cried in the taxi–I was kinda wowed with the act. Of course, seeing a handsome guy like Sturridge cried in tears with fungus coming out of his nose was kinda disgusting, and definitely unpleasant to watch. But the fact that he could sob that bad showed that he’s not just some handsome actor without acting skills. And Scott Mechlowicz’s act as a hostile brother at first to a loving one, was also not bad. Well, I think the teary ride scene really got me.

The teary ride scene
Rachel Bilson as Emma Twist

Frankly speaking, Rachel Bilson’s character somehow didn’t really appeal to me. I mean, she’s okay, and she played her part very well. It’s just her character in the movie didn’t really attract me as much as Sturridge’s Will and Mechlowicz’s Jimbo. It was nice at first, when she seemed to be distressed and troubled, first with her dying father, and then with her meddling mother, and finally with her arrogant boyfriend as well as her childhood friend, Willie. Really, it was good. Yet towards the end, it’s getting… lame. I love the ending, really. It was a nice simple not-so-closed-ending. To me it’s an open-ending, but hey, I’m not the expert anyway. I’m simply someone who loves watching movies. So as an amateur, I love the ending. The thing is, I didn’t really see Emma’s growing affection towards Will. I definitely refused to believe that Emma finally return Will’s unrequited love. I just didn’t see it happen. It’s more like Emma trying to accept Will as he is, and that she (perhaps) is willing to try to, if not to love, understand Will better. To me, Emma’s more like someone who harbor a sisterly affection towards Will, while Will’s definitely love Emma as a woman.

Well, you might protest to that, and it’s really up to you to interpret the movie yourself. In fact, I kinda think maybe I’m taking this interpretation of mine a little too far. You know, perhaps even the director and the script-writer didn’t have the slightest idea of my interpretation and might laughed if they ever read this, thinking how silly my interpretation could be. Anyway, it is cheesy (the silly love story and all), but it doesn’t stop me from getting fond of this movie. I do hope you who watched it enjoy it as much as I do.