Supernova is one of the two Indonesian movies that I’ve been impatiently waiting for to end my 2014. I wanted this more than I wanted to watch The Hobbit for a few reasons. First, it’s an adaptation of my favorite Indonesian’s series from my favorite Indonesian author. Second, it got casts that would hopefully manage to deliver. Third, it’s simply impossible for me to resist Herjunot Ali and Arifin Putra. Fourth and most importantly, I will finally get to see Reuben and Dimas in the big screen. So yeah, simply impatient and was disappointed for being unable to catch the premiere. Too bad that when I finally got to see it, it didn’t blew me away the way I hoped it would despite being a well made movie. Disclaimer: this review might contain major spoiler.
Ten years after the chanced meeting that brought them together, Reuben (Arifin Putra) and Dimas (Hamish Daud) fulfill their pact by starting the process of writing their masterpiece: a science fiction romance that will move the heart of the masses. They based it on the story of the Knight, the Princess, and the Shooting Star.
In Pseudo-Jakarta, the young executive Ferre (Herjunot Ali) fell for the princess that he had always dreamed about, Rana (Raline Shah). Their love would’ve been the perfect fairy tale if only Rana is not married to Arwin (Fedi Nuril). Meanwhile, Diva (Paula Verhoeven) the shooting star watched over everything from the sideline.
As a book, Supernova was quite hard to understand. It was filled with scientific references and I had to read it twice before I can comprehend it thoroughly. It blew me away then, and I was hoping against all odds that the movie will do the same. I know it’s going to be hard, conveying the cleverly disguised plot twist in the audio visual form. Not to mention the possibility of plot adjustment and character trimming. Also, I know better than to hope that they will let Reuben-Dimas be, given that this is Indonesia. The fact that they call Reuben-Dimas a couple alone had me squealing in joy because I was afraid they would be reduced to heterosexual-life partner. Anyway, as per expected, there were quite some changes in the movie, and I wasn’t happy with that. And while I know that it is a bit unfair to compare the movie to the book because they were supposed to be two separate entities, but it can’t be helped because the changes are what made Supernova ended up as a bit of a letdown.
It started out great, despite how Dimas practically screamed “AWKWARD” throughout the first few minutes, and I was able to enjoy the transition between Reuben-Dimas writing their opus and the unfolding story of Ferre, Rana, Arwin, and Diva. But it felt like there weren’t enough bait about how Ferre-Rana-Arwin-Diva is not just a story that Reuben-Dimas wrote, they are actual living people who happened to experienced the story that the couple wrote. It’s kind off obvious even, for anyone who read the official synopsis. And I think that’s such a shame because when I read the book, it’s this revelation about the actual existence of the Knight, the Princess, and the Shooting Star that got me fell head over heels. Still, Supernova played off the love story nicely and I very much enjoy the tale – even if they felt a bit cheesy at times. I don’t even mind the fact that they trimmed a lot of Reuben-Dimas interaction. Understandable
because hello, Indonesia since there were tons of scientific comparison in their conversation that I suppose would only confuse the viewers further. But it downplayed the importance of how this love story could be the embodiment of various sciences and contributed to the lackluster twist. I’m even okay with trimming down Diva and her sassy interaction with her clients because decency, duh the focus is on Ferre, Rana, and Arwin. And those are okay, really.
But I’m seriously not okay with how the ending turned out. Starting from the moment when Ferre actually meet Diva, it all went downhill and by the end of the movie, the snowball had turned into one huge mess of avalanche. FYI, the book ended in that last scene of Reuben-Dimas, and for me that was a perfect ending. But no, of course, the movie had to completely ignored that and drag it on. It simply is unnecessary and I vehemently hate how they spoil what’s supposed to be a beautiful ending and altered it into something that got me scowling. All I can think about while I watch the last ten minutes or so of the movie is that they have no plan to turn this into a Supernova series because I have no idea how they will pick up on Akar from there. Plus, how the hell would they continue when they wrote off Gio? Gio would play an important part later on and I’d hate it if they retcon him.
So yeah, I had a problem with the final part of the movie and it’s not just because it was different from the book. It also spoils an otherwise good adaptation and good movie. Because this movie was actually that good and the production was top-notch. The script was solid and I am madly in love with the dialogues. True it was mostly taken from the book, but the banter and the dialogue was just so elegant that it captivates you, rendering you unable to even look away for fear that you’ll miss something that is extremely quotable. Tons of the dialogues was quotable and it hits too close to the heart. And the script was supported by picturesque cinematography. It’s not just the establishing shot that shows just how breathtaking the settings are, but how they could actually bring out the beauty of a city as crowded as Jakarta. If Selamat Pagi, Malam brought out the subtle beauty of Jakarta that we don’t usually see, Supernova was a total show off with the way it took us in a tour of skyscrapers and the metropolitan side of this city of dualism. Yudi Datau as the director of photography also have a knack for framing the scenes in means that make something as simple as a conversation extremely pleasing to the eyes. The time-lapse was also a plus point and oh dear god somebody please take me to this pseudo-Jakarta because I want to live there, please. Then there is the scoring. I am abusing the word “love” here but really though, how can you not love the posh and fancy background music? Even the original soundtracks by Nidji fit in gorgeously instead of being an in-your-face-nuisance. Not to mention that there were even use Tiesto’s.
The problem with the movie is, aside from the last part of the movie, is the casting. It would not be fair if I scorn everyone, because most of them delivered. I don’t think there’s anything that need to be said about Junot and Fedi, because they are as stellar as always. Junot play the charming but frail executive well and I am in love with the offhand way he deliver Ferre’s answer to Rana’s question about why he’s still single. He’s not as haughty as I thought Ferre would be, but his rendition of the desperately in love Ferre is something that I definitely like. Fedi, on the other hand, made Arwin into the perfect husband. But even perfect could be stale and I can see why Rana would be tempted to start an affair with Ferre despite being married to Arwin. Still, Arwin’s confession to Rana is a strong candidate for the best moment of the movie. Talking about Rana, Raline Shah was also okay as the unhappy wife that is stuck in a withering marriage. Personally, I could really relate to her. Arifin’s Reuben was also enjoyable to watch and he was adorable and annoying at the same time – the way I felt for Reuben in the book. Unfortunately, Paula Verhoeven failed to deliver as Diva. She was much too rigid, since it was her first acting gig, and it took out most of the life from Diva’s character. Hamish Daud was also unconvincing because god, he was just too awkward and his rendition of Dimas got under my skin in a bad way. He just tried too hard. But the real problem is that while most of them are stellar – or at least passable – as a character, there’s a definite lack of chemistry in the air. Ferre-Rana is the only relationship with believable chemistry, because the rests are just unconvincing. Even Reuben-Dimas and that is such a shame because theirs was my personal favorite. Luckily, there was a breathe of fresh air in the form of Hany Pattikawa as Ale because he is just so funny and lovable and I’d like to have a friend like him, please. Utterly disappointed that there weren’t enough interaction between him and Ferre because I adore their dynamics in the book.
All in all, Supernova was a good adaptation and an okay movie. Not great, a bit under expectation, but still managed to be extraordinary. It tried to convey a layered story that is different from other simpleton Indonesian movies. At times, this does made Supernova a bit too wrapped up in it’s own world and might be hard to follow for those who haven’t read the book. But it still is a great love story – despite the underexposed Reuben-Dimas arc – and I love how the tales unfold. Supernova is also an extremely beautiful movie because the cinematography is just eyegasmic and the scoring is eargasmic. So even if you find the story unsatisfying or some of the acting cringeworthy, or even if you’re one of those few who squeal-in-not-a-nice-and-probably-a-tad-homophobic-way upon every Reuben-Dimas’s interaction, you could still walk away feeling satisfied over the picturesque cinematography and gorgeous soundtracks. Too bad that after keeping a tight grip throughout the movie, it feels like the production team slack off during the ending. Also, I wish they have a better casts. I’d kill to replace Hamish with someone else, preferably Nicholas Saputra or Reza Rahadian.
Director: Rizal Mantovani. Writers: Donny Dhirgantoro, Sunil Soraya. Released on: 11 December 2014 (Indonesia). Casts: Herjunot Ali, Raline Shah, Fedi Nuril, Arifin Putra, Hamish Daud, Paula Verhoeven, Hany Pattikawa.