Movies are perceived as mere entertainment and form of escapism, created based on imagination. Yet, cinema inevitably reflected the society it was created in, even when it has no intention of portraying the harsh truth of current social condition. It will always echoes the ideas and norms of its society, or one that its creators believed in. That’s precisely why I find it hard to enjoy quite a number of Indonesian movies. Their values on romance, marriage, family, and childrearing often clashed mine. What they show, admittedly, does represented Indonesian majority’s reality and frame of mind. But it didn’t represented mine, or most of my friends for that matters. Quite to my surprise, though, Angga Dwimas Sasongko and Salman Aristo changed that with Bukaan 8.
Though they live a happy newlywed life, Mia (Lala Karmela) and Alam (Chicco Jerikho) have to face the truth: Mia’s family doesn’t think the same way. So when Mia’s about to give birth, Alam must go through hell and back to prove to her parents, Ambu (Sarah Secha) and Abah (Tyo Pakusadewo), that he indeed is worthy of being her husband. Even if he’s just a twitter activist slash freelancer with no steady income who only had the support of his mother Emi (Dayu Wijanto).
Bukaan 8’s premise does make it sounds like a typical melodrama about husband vs in-laws. Its promotional hashtag #MerebutRestu (#SeizeTheirBlessing) doesn’t help either. And to be honest, Angga and Salman did delivered this movie as one heartfelt and honest drama comedy. With nicely written plot and well timed emotional and comedic moments, being on the receiving end of their storytelling was a pleasant experience. I found this movie very relatable, which isn’t surprising considering this is Angga’s very personal project.
Of course, having such wonderful casts helped. Chicco Jerikho played a typical disorganized but charming guy who’s both irritating and intriguing. It’s easy to see why Mia would fall for him, and why Mia would think he’s worth fighting for. True to Alam’s character, Chicco was explosive in the way he delivers his emotion, making it easier to sympathize with him. On the other hand, Lala Karmela’s performance rather fluctuated. But for the most part, she delivered as a patient but strong willed female. Her strong chemistry with Chicco especially saved the whole movie. It’s the kind of chemistry that made me forgave some of their awkward lines, because on screen, they were the kind of couple I’d just love to root for.
All the supporting casts were just as good. Sarah Sechan portrayed Ambu as overbearing and irksome, but in the way that makes it clear how it’s all just her way of concealing the heart on her sleeves. She actually cares very deeply for Mia and I did understand her good intentions, even if it took me some time. Dayu Wijanto was lovable as Emi, portraying her as the kind of cool mother people wants to be and have. Her character is kind of Ambu’s foil, and plot device at some parts, but she’s still very humane. And in the off-chance when she lost her cool, her emotional turmoil was palpable. However, the true scene stealer was Tyo Pakusadewo. With his consistent act as a stroke-ridden father, he didn’t need to say much to conveyed his stance and trust. He’s reliable and trustworthy, and his gestures alone made clear that he cares deeply for Mia and Alam. But especially Mia.
But what makes Bukaan 8 a personal favorite is how it’s a very relevant picture of our everyday life. It presented a progressive reality that fits seamlessly with mine. Mia and Alam is a very modern (millennials, even, according to the movie’s official synopsis) couple. Their dynamic shows that they view each other as equal, and they even got reversed gender-roles. Mia acts the main breadwinner as the one with stable corporate job and income, while Alam is the freelancer who mainly pursues his dream. Alam and Mia doesn’t adhere to traditional roles in patriarchal family like most Indonesian, and both are okay with that. Both are happy and content with the way things are. Even further, this movie handled the case of pregnancy out of wedlock with such ease and grace. It was mentioned in an offhanded comment, and nobody, not even both sides of the family, actually made a big fuss about it.
This is important because of the unspoken messages it sent. By treating pregnancy out of wedlock as just another part of life, this movie admitted that sex does happens outside of marriage. That it is a part of our everyday life, and it’s a choice that a lot of people does make. And that’s okay, as long as it was done responsibly. You could question this point, of course, considering Mia and Alam was irresponsible enough for it to lead to pregnancy (seriously, people, wear condom. It’s not that expensive). But they then face the consequences together, and they took responsibility for the baby by getting married (for birth certificate and all those legal tidbits, I presume, although saving face could also work) and work on being capable parents. The way Bukaan 8 treats this whole issues as a matter of fact part of life rather than major plot point really spoke volume. At most, it was just one of the reasons behind the rift between Mia’s parents and Alam. Their main concern is making sure Mia gets what’s best for her, which is why they questioned Alam as Mia’s choice. Alam, after all, isn’t the type parents would easily trust with their daughter, even more so because he doesn’t seem to be emotionally or financially capable. Their rushed wedding was most likely just a cherry on top, another reason why they’re skeptical of Alam, but not their main problem.
Ambu and Abah’s concern about Mia, however, was the catalyst of this movie. They constant meddling and doubt created Alam’s need to proved to her parents that he is indeed the best choice for her. Which propel the whole fiasco, because of one painfully realistic problem: money. Yes, my darlings. Money, like what they say, makes the world goes round. And it is the root of all problems in Mia and Alam’s life. They were financially prepared and capable enough to have children, but they are on a budget. Yet, the need to show that they are indeed financially capable forced them to spend more than what they actually have. Even worse because Alam actually got financial problems at work, but situation and his pride made him unable to admit that, creating an even bigger problem.
Moral of the story, people, is that you should not have children before you’re ready on all counts. Regardless of when you decided to have it, whether it’s before or after you’re legally bound in a marriage, please make sure to only have them when you can be fully responsible for them. Physically, emotionally, psychologically, and most importantly, financially. Because financial issues would greatly affect the other three aspects. Not having enough money would forced you to work harder and earn more money for your baby. This could be physically and emotionally taxing. Even psychologically. These less than great condition could easily lead to disagreements and fights, which in turn would only burdened you and your partner more. Seriously. Be realistic. Love doesn’t conquer all and you need money to survive this cruel world.
And that is perhaps why I am so enamored with Bukaan 8. Because it dared to be different. Other movies would’ve focused on Alam’s journey to earn Mia’s parents’ blessing. Perhaps even dragged it out for one big final touching moment in the end. But instead, Bukaan 8 offered a deep understanding about Alam’s fight for Mia’s parents’ approval. Blessing and acceptance, after all, is something you have to strive for in an endless battle. You’re not going to get it in one grand moment. You’ll chipped on their wall bit by bit until you finally managed to steal a spot in their heart. And even then, you’ll still have to defend your place there with teeth and nails.
This movie then wound up as profound character study about children-parents relationship dynamics. Because even after you’re married, you’re still your parent’s child. And this movie explored that nicely, in ways that are easy to relate to. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only who sees resemblance between Mia’s dynamic with her parents and my own. Without saying much, it’s clear that Ma is closer to Abah and Abah would always support her decisions because he trust her. Ultimately, Abah just wants Mia to be happy and he trusts in her capabilities to make that happens. Because when Mia is happy, so is he. Ambu, of course, wants the same thing. But much like other Indonesian mother, she have a different way of showing it. She nags and questioned Mia’s decisions, but that’s because she just wants Mia to have only the best thing in life. I believe that most guys would feel the same way towards Alam’s closeness with his mother Emi, and their rather laidback dynamic. And Emi’s undying trust.
Bukaan 8 is a very personal movie. It’s an honest reflection of our everyday life and that’s why it’s easy to relate to. The root of its problems is traditionally Indonesian, namely parents’ blessings. But it’s more practical conflict was much more realistic: financial capability. And that is one the offhanded way in which Bukaan 8 conveyed its progressive values on relationship, marriage, family, and childrearing. Supported by Chicco Jerikho and Lala Karmela’s sweet chemistry, Angga Dwimas Sasongko and Salman Aristo weaved a poignant story through Bukaan 8.
Director: Angga Dwimas Sasongko. Writer: Salman Aristo. Released on: 23 February 2017. Casts: Chicco Jerikho, Lala Karmela, Sarah Sechan, Tyo Pakusadewo, Dayu Wijanto.