Sunday, August 13, 2006

[ASEAN Film Festival] Brownies (Indonesia)


Perhaps finding and nurturing love is similar to the making of the brownie, through plenty of patience and care to ensure it turns out right. I've a personal anecdote on the brownie based on past experience, in a tale of my own relationship with a past significant other, but that will probably be another entry in itself, not fit for this blog.

The opening sequence for Brownies is interesting enough, with the recipe and credits intertwined as we see how they are being done, from the beating of the eggs, until they come out perfect from the oven. The story centers on Mel (Marcella Zalianty), a beautiful career woman who is about to get married to Joe, an equally successful executive. However she discovers first hand that Joe is having an affair behind her back, and calls off the engagement promptly.

What follows is a romance drama between Mel, a woman who, despite knee jerk determination to move on, still holds a candle for the cad, Joe, the suave cunning smooth talking bastard who wants to have the cake and eat it, and Are, a bohemian styled operator of a book cafe and an aspiring novelist.

At times you just want to strangle Mel, for being the wishy washy person that she is when it pertains to the affairs of the heart. And it struck a chord with me as well, because in her indecisiveness, she had inadvertently caused pain to someone else, and it never is a nice thing to do. There is a fear of loss that permeates within each of the lead characters, and somehow makes this exploration interesting to observe, especially with the varying degrees the characters felt.

Despite the good things about the movie, what marred it was that the print that was used for the screening, was significantly noisy - full of pops and cackles throughout, which I thought was a shame. And with any foreign language film, non-natives will have to rely heavily on the subtitles, but as subtitles go, sometimes they cannot fully capture the essence of the dialogue. What made this one suspect were the gender-bender mixup, which provided accidental laughter, especially when dealing with relationships of the opposite sex (now when did that someone decide a preference change?) :P

While the movie at times unveiled like some Mediacorp drama, I liked the way the Brownie made its way into many scenes, and gotten itself weaved into the storyline, in a fashion that wasn't indulging. Marcella Zalianty carries the film with her excellent acting as the tough on the outside, soft on the inside Mel, and her vague resemblance to Kelly Hu at certain angles, helped too.

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