Review: A Copy of My Mind is definitely a copy of Indonesian versatile filmmaker, Joko Anwar’s mind towards particular issues in Indonesia, more specifically, Jakarta, as – at least – projected in his social media.
After experimenting with romantic comedy in Janji Joni a.k.a Joni’s Promise (2005), spawning Indonesian first noir in Kala (2007), spilling blood in two consecutive psychological thrillers – Pintu Terlarang a.k.a The Forbidden Door (2009) and Modus Anomali (2012), Mr. Anwar brings his witty, groundbreaking mind home, in seemingly his most deviant/smallest/most hyper-realistic but most personal work.
In brief, A Copy of My Mind seems to devotedly follow three-act structure, with a prolonged first act. During the first act, we’re introduced to Sari (Tara Basro) – an attractive beautician in a small-time salon who loves to watch pirated whimsical B-movie wonders in her damp, cramped boarding room. On the other side, we’re also introduced to Alek (Chicco Jerikho) – a man without phone or IDs whose job is making subtitles for pirated DVDs. Separately, Sari and Alek become our eyes to observe the hustle and bustle of Jakarta’s suburb with the heat, the traffic, and other beautifully suffocating details in welcoming an upcoming presidential election.
By the end of the first act, Sari met Alek in an unexpected way – when she’s making complaint to her usual DVD shanty about the quality of subtitle of some movies she’s been watching. But their encounter wasn’t going anywhere until Alek caught Sari looted a DVD as an act of revenge. Before long, they start seeing each other in a very likable, sweaty romance.
When it seems it’ll lead to an explosive and voluptuous romance, A Copy of My Mind suddenly takes an unexpected turn when Sari, now working in a bigger salon, stole a DVD from a prisoned customer. What she thought as a hybrid-monster movie was actually an evident of a corruption broker case in presidential campaign.
It’s surprising that A Copy of My Mind covers a poignant political thriller behind an already likable romance. The Via Dolorosa approach to reach the Calvary is definitely unpredictable and, might seem, random although it makes sense. Mr. Anwar really takes the time to collect all the details to cleverly culminate into an irreversible hazard, without being explosive and hasty.
Frankly, it’s not the high-profile twist of fate in the end which makes A Copy of My Mind big; it’s their modesty that wins. Senses of authenticity and chemistry become all that matters in creating the whole set-up. Without big set pieces and artificial production designs, Mr. Anwar and DoP Ical Tanjung choose to highlight the constriction of Jakarta by stuffing every corner of the screen with natural details that represent the metropolis. The crowd, the ambiance, the mood, and the intimacy are showcased in a low-key idyll, which lingers long after the ending.
Similar to absorbing the beauty of Wong Kar Wai’s works, Joko Anwar’s work in A Copy of My Mind is a tour de force for him in what a character called as ‘craftsmanship’—it’s exactly like that on-screen description: it doesn’t need to look expensive, it needs to feel expensive. In getting that job done, both main actors lend their charisma to Anwar’s craftsmanship. It’s charming chemistry between Chicco Jerikho and Tara Basro that seasons the authentic beauty of it, in additional to beautiful mise-en-scene powered by the director.
In the end, A Copy of My Mind is surprisingly a poignant political-thriller sweetly wrapped in a sweaty romance with most likable couple of the year. It indeed probes more questions than answers from its unpredictable storyline, but it’s modest in a barely patronizing reflection of thought about Jakarta by Joko Anwar.