Review: Love is magic… in the world where going to New York from Jakarta is as easy as jumping blocks. It’s the world where Terjebak Nostalgia, a film inspired by Raisa’s song, takes place. This Nicholas Sparks-esque love triangle drama is saccharine-laced, and it’s stick to the title at its entirety.
Terjebak Nostalgia revolves around the life of a rising singer, Raisa (Raisa Andriana), in one of the most bizzare time in her life. She’s in love with her long-time lover, Sora (Maruli Tampubolon), a musician who shares mutual dream with Raisa. In achieving that dream, Sora leaves to New York with a sacred promise to return. Across the ocean, Sora keeps sending perfume-sprayed letters to Raisa, who waits impatiently in Jakarta.
The unexpected happens. Sora never returns to Jakarta; never holds on to his word; never makes the dream coming true. What’s left from the almost-perfect love story is: devastated Raisa, who barely moves on and keeps reciting sad poems during rainy days. One day, a mysterious letter from someone claiming to be Sora comes. Raisa, accompanied by Reza (Chicco Jerikho, A Copy of My Mind), a man with unrequited, enormous love to her, voyages to New York, to a place which snares her in an endless nostalgia.
Thirty minutes into Terjebak Nostalgia, the film tastes overly sweet, full of sugarcoated simple moments, allegedly to escalate the moment before everything crumbles. Maruli Tampubolon seems like he’s trying too hard to present the persona of an unforgettable man and, if you look closely, Raisa seems hesitated to ‘actually’ be in the larger-than-life love story. Even, the first climactic moment—which sends Sora to a nostalgic realm—isn’t as culminating as it should’ve been… and it leads to ridiculous cliche where Raisa collapses in public.
Fortunately, the story fast-forwards into several times where we finally meets Chicco Jerikho’s character. By far, Chicco, although his character is overly sappy, is the reason why Terjebak Nostalgia is enjoyable. His subtlety inspires at least a little warmth to bond with Raisa making a sweet chemistry that gives life to the thinly written story.
Rako Prijanto, known for his sweet little treats in some romantic dramas, cleverly manages to present idyllic moments borrowing Chicco Jerikho’s charm and Raisa’s naturally gifted beauty. However, the director plays strictly on the safe zone, following the flat narrative with shallow characters. In the end, Rako does exactly nothing to make the lame twist in the plot works; and he saves nothing from the lousy third act, which makes the middle act feels ‘meh.’
Borrowing The Big Apple’s splendor in the background, Terjebak Nostalgia finds no urgency to explore the significance of an overseas location to the storyline—a formulaic problem which begins to infect Indonesian cinema recently. Fluorescent cinematography provides nothing to anything but some temporal beauty, which gets soon forgotten.
There’s a moment where Raisa is expected to play a game, which gets her drowned in sentimental nostalgia, through some places all around New York. One of those places is Union Square Theatre, which becomes quintessential in the eventual. There’s a banner right before the entry saying: “Absurdly enjoyable” – Ben Barntley, The New York Times. At some points, that line gets stuck in my head as I keep thinking: is it coincidental or is it deliberate to show that review on screen?
In the end, I end up with a conclusion: just like Ben Barntley’s review in Union Square Theatre, Terjebak Nostalgia is ‘actually’ absurdly enjoyable. It might be a saccharine-laced clichefest with lame twist and lousy third act; it’s also full of one-dimensional, thinly written characters, but it has Chicco Jerikho who lits some fire from within, lending his charm to Rako Prijanto’s tendency to sweet moments.
Terjebak Nostalgia (2016)