Promise is not the kind of movie I’d usually watch. Not because I’m a snob or an elitist (seriously, I’m not), but because I don’t normally do romance. I have low tolerance against cheesy dialogue – it’s an honest to god turn off for me. And I’m too bitter for those dreamy “love conquer all” premise. Disclaimer: it does not. You can have all the love in the world and Destiny would still find a way to fuck it all up. ANYWAY. Long story short, I wound up watching Promise. And despite all its imperfection, despite all of the cuss words I threw around and despite me fussing around in my seat like I got ants in my pants, Promise was surprisingly… okay. Enjoyable, even.
The goody two shoes Rahman (Dimas Anggara) and dandy playboy Aji (Boy William) have had an unlikely friendship since they were just children. And it was this friendship that got Rahman into trouble. To be exact, it was Aji’s suspicious porn VCD and Rahman’s own naivety – because you could at least turn your lights off or take some precaution so you doesn’t start a black out just to watch porn. Rahman’s father (Surya Saputra, who looks extremely weird in a religious get up) decided to take drastic measure: put a pause on Rahman’s friendship with Aji and, of course, marrying him off. So he doesn’t sin. Because, you know, he watched porn. Which means he got sex drive now. And rather than, I don’t know, teach him to jack off or teach him to control himself so he doesn’t go around sexualizing and harassing women, it’s better to just marry him off to a mysterious girl so he can fuck her without worrying about sinning. Ha. Such parenting much wow.
Anyway. Fast forward to 18 months later, and we found Rahman in Milan. He’s continuing his study while searching for something – or perhaps someone. Clearly, he’s looking for some sort of closure. Which isn’t all that surprising. The needs for closure does prompt people to do stupid things. Like studying all the way to Milan. Or running off to another city for a slim chance to come across said people. Stupid and questionable things, basically. Rahman was so absorbed in his quest for closure that he didn’t even look at Moza (Mikha Tambayong), his “best friend”. Which is stupid. Seriously. No matter how hung up you are on your ex, you’ll have to be blind not to see Moza’s appeal. That girl is downright gorgeous. Like, at the very least, she’s an amazing rebound material???
But whatever. Maybe that’s just me. Rahman was obviously too straight and narrow to look at other girl when he’s so clearly in love with a certain mysterious girl. Until one day, he got a call from Aji. Their reunion lead to him and Moza meeting Kanya (Amanda Rawles), and that’s when things finally start making sense.
I kid you not. That time skip, as edgy and unique as it was, did more harm than good. Sure it roused question and got me paying closer attention, but it was because I was confused. Not because I was curious or intrigued. I mean, there wasn’t even a proper notice concerning the time skip. Or perhaps I missed that because I was too busy seething over that “I’ll marry you off so you does not sin” decision. Still, I did not understand why Promise had a non-linear storyline. It moved from A to C, then back to B, then back to C, then fast forward to E, and then back to D, before we finally got to F. And yes, it was as convoluted as it sounds. Which was such a shame. Because Sukhdev Singh and Tisa Ts’s script was…. okay.
Yes, it was just okay. The script wasn’t anything special. It’s your typical chick flick about love polygon, filled to the brim with cheesy dialogue and it-was-supposed-to-be-cute dating scenes, topped with one running gag in the form of one riddles. No, I’m not going to say that riddle or spoil the answer. It’s an experience that you people have to go through yourself. Point is, with all that, Promise actually had the making of a good chick flick. One that you can just watch without thinking and actually enjoy, no matter how cringe-worthy it was. It could actually became my guilty pleasure, especially since it had great production value. It was quite cinematic, I can feel that they paid proper attention to the sets and equipment, and their wardrobe department deserved a standing ovation. Like, I honest to god wants to rob those clothes. They were so fucking pretty it was insane. So with those supports, Promise could have been an above average chick flick. But like a teenager who doesn’t want to just be “above average”, Promise had to be different. Edgy. Never before seen. Or something along that line. So it took the “fragmented timeline” route and wound up as a mess.
Such fate could’ve been prevented or made better if the main character was at the very least, likeable. Rahman was not. I understand some people out there would have fall head over heels for someone as good and angelic as Rahman. That good and religious guy who would rather not look you in the eyes because he respect you, who keep his distance and create a mysterious untouchable aura, who would probably make a great imam for your life. Yeah, I could see why he would be appealing for certain demographic, but I found him exasperating. Indecisive. Undependable. Simply not one I can be sympathetic to. Dimas Anggara’s performance didn’t help all that much. He was funny and endearing at times, most notably when Rahman was in love, but outside from that he was just… Just… He made me want to throw things. At the screen. Or just shake him off until he snapped back to his senses. And his poem recital was so stiff it made me want to cry. I could recite that poem better than that. Pick any of my co-worker and they could recite that poem better than that.
On the other hand, there’s Aji. Who, weirdly, should’ve been my type. Like, you know, those typical bad boy who somehow is attractive? But in the hands of Boy William, Aji was just as much a turn off as Rahman. This was not a bad boy, he was a fuckboy. Who tried too hard to look cool and failed spectacularly at that. Even when he had “succeeded”, he was still a fuckboy. A very annoying one at that. And I think I’m not the only who does not bought his story about being a successful photographer who climbed so highly from nothing in the mere span on 18 months. Nope. I’m pretty sure he became a boytoy for like, I don’t know, some filthy rich socialite and fuck his way to fame. Which sounds a lot like a prompt for a fanfiction. BUT IT’S POSSIBLE, OKAY, AND IT MADE MORE SENSE.
Thankfully, Promise got Mikha Tambayong and Amanda Rawles to counter those two boys. Those two were such apples for my eyes. Visually speaking. To be frank, Amanda Rawles’ performance fluctuate wildly. Her cute scenes with Rahman were actually cute and adorable and made her, you know, date-able. But other than that, especially in supposedly emotional scenes, she was just… empty. She sounded like she’s reading straight from her script without injecting any emotions on it. So thank Lucifer for Mikha Tambayong. She was drop down gorgeous. And could actually act to boot. Well, Moza was the character that I found most believable and easiest to relate to, so it probably didn’t take much for Mikha to convinced me. Still, she was good. She was adorable, she was sympathetic, and she actually talked through her expressions and gesture. Which was refreshing compared to the other three. And made me wish I could watch more of her. Honestly, Screenplay could made a Before Sunset-esque movie starring Mikha Tambayong and Amanda Rawles and I’d watch it. They could just walk around, looking pretty in gorgeous dresses, exchanging cheesy dialogues, and I would still watch the fuck out of it.
Where was I. Right. Promise. So, you know, Promise was one surprisingly enjoyable cheese fest. There were lots of things that didn’t sit well with me, like the romanticization of early marriage, romanticization of matchmaking where the kids doesn’t actually had any say in it, and the idea of marriage as a way of avoiding sin. Seriously, people, do not get married just so you can release your sexual urges and fuck like rabbits without worrying about sin. But aside from that, it got proper production values with some nicely done shots and amazeballs wardrobe. Plus Mikha Tambayong, who was like a goddess sent from heaven in Promise. With quite well written story, Promise could’ve been a nice guilty pleasure…. if not for the fragmented timeline. Had it settled on being above average instead of pushing to be edgy, it would’ve been a far better movie.