Vampire Owl: I remember taking the photocopy of the Vampire Deed of Blood.
Vampire Bat: It is originally called the Nocturnal Crimson Deed.
Vampire Owl: That reminds me of the movie, Nocturnal Animals.
Vampire Bat: Do you remember the other Indonesian movies we had watched?
Vampire Bat: They were some very interesting flicks with a divergence.
Vampire Owl: Yes, one horror film and a superhero flick.
Vampire Bat: It took us some time to watch another Indonesian movie.
Vampire Owl: Well, we can’t watch them all, right?
[Gets a blueberry cake and three cups of Wayanad tea].
What is the movie about? :: Suryani (Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon) is a college student who is also part of the theatre group at the campus, named Mata Hari. After the performance, she returns home to a very strict father and a mother who is always working, far away from the city. At home, she finds out that their performance called Medusa et Perseus in the Student Theatre Festical was accepted for the Asian Student Festival in Kyoto, Japan; her father asks her to focus on her studies. There is a party at the house of their leader Rama Soemarno (Giulio Parengkuan) to celebrate the triumph, but her father does warn her against it, especially related to consuming alcohol and wearing revealing dress. Another girl, a senior named Farah (Lutesha) also asks her not to go to the party, and advices her to instead focus on getting the scholarship that she had always wanted. She feels that Farah is saying so because he was kicked out of the theatre group. The group also finds the suitable sponsors for their flight tickets to Japan.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The party feels more wild than she had expected, and forgetting what her father had told her, she decides to have the alcohol, even though not without difficulty in drinking it for the first time. She also forgets the earlier decision to leave the party before it gets too late, as she enjoys a lot under the influence of the alcoholic drinks. In the morning, she wakes up very late, and arrives for the scholarship interview on the next day just in time. But she is embarrassed in front of the interviewers who had checked her social media, which had her pictures of drinking alcohol and enjoying the party. Even though she has good scores and attendance, they reiterate to her that drinking alcohol and attending late night parties are not Indonesian culture; they are looking forward to give scholarships to students who set good examples and not those who could go on to become nuisance for the society in the future. They also added that instead of doing work within her department which was Computer Science, she was wasting time with theatre. She had also attended the interview in party wear, and has to walk out of the room humiliated.
And what more is there for the girl in trouble right now? :: The teacher asks her to join the class only after paying her fees, which she can only do with the scholarship. Back at home, she comes to know that her parents had received the message that her scholarship was terminated due to inappropriate conduct. Her father throws her out of the house for breaking the religious laws by drinking alcohol, and tells her that everybody knows about it now, as some guy was carrying her back home, knocking on each door on the way to know her residence. That had caused a big mess in the neighbourhood as it was three in the morning, causing humiliation to the whole family. He asks her to leave and spend time in repentence. The leading performer of the theatre, Anggun (Dea Panendra), the party host Rama (Giulio Parengkuan) and the group leader Tariq (Jerome Kurnia), are all ready to help her, but nobody knows what exactly happened in the drunken state and who uploaded those pictures of her being drunk at the party. Now, she has to find it out herself, can she?
The defence of Photocopier a.k.a. Penyalin Cahaya :: Photocopier nicely goes through the adventure from the beginning to end, keeping us curious, and as a part of the whole mystery that is happening around here. Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon nicely goes through the role of the desperate student hoping to prove to everyone that she didn’t do what she was accused of doing, also desperate to get her scholarship back. The feeling of a curious as well as a sad and depressed girl is always there. Lutesha plays the next person to be of interest here, and her role is also worked out with quality. Dea Panendra as Anggun and Jerome Kurnia as Tariq remain strong parts of the work too. Ruth Marini and Lukman Sardi who plays the protagonist’s father are strong with the emotional side. There is no questioning the movie’s emotional strength as much as its strong elements of mystery, which seems to be almost impossible to solve, unless passed on as hallucinations or with a high dose of luck added here and there. Giulio Parengkuan and Chicco Kurniawan also have their moments.
Positives and negatives :: This is one of those movies which could have actually gone darker with its contents – instead it chooses the safe path. It still has its dark side hiding in plain sight, but strong enough. There seems to be a certain amount of hesitation in taking the risks with this film too. The movie has its fine setting in different parts of Indonesia, and this is a tale which could be put in the worlds of a few other nations too. With a few red herrings, it makes one feel that the innocents and the culprits and vice versa, while also making one wonder if there is actually any mystery about all of these or if it is already in the head. In a movie which feels close enough to reality, you won’t expect this many twists and turns, but there are many, and most of the characters here are not really what they seem. The movie talks about privacy in a world of mobile, CCTV and hidden cameras as well as the factors working on physical and mental health. The movie ponders on life, friendships, trust and betrayal at the same time. Still, there is the question about the uploading of the photos in social media that remains – the film seems to be too abstract about that.
How it finishes :: This is the third Indonesian movie that I am watching, and there was a certain interest in watching such a movie during our earlier trip to Bali too. This is that kind of a movie which doesn’t want us to skip forward even if it is not that quick – we do feel the need to be part of it. The negative effects of social media and lack of safety during night parties are the two things that this movie adds along with the interesting investigation that goes on here with the thrills and twists. It is also a reminder that people and things around are not the same as what we think they are. The movie reminds us that nobody is safe, and not everything that you hear from the most trusted people are true. Well, we know that those who are too rich and influential always gets away unless facing someone of a similar or higher status – in the case of celebrities, we have seen how people get away with everything. Well, not with Photocopier, as it does have the power of many. As it follows a realistic route, there is no stopping it from being something we can connect at points.
Release date: 8th October 2021 (Indonesia); 13th January 2022 (Netflix)
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Wregas Bhanuteja
Starring: Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon, Lutesha, Chicco Kurniawan, Dea Panendra, Jerome Kurnia, Giulio Parengkuan, Lukman Sardi, Ruth Marini, Mian Tiara, Yayan Ruhian, Landung Simatupang, Rukman Rosadi
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.