Review: In the toughest time of her life, a fussy 70-year-old hag gets a second chance to compensate her lost youth and cheat aging when she is mysteriously transformed into her 20-year-old self. That’s the premise of Hwang Dong-hyuk’s mega-hit Miss Granny (2014), which has inspired series of overseas remakes, including the Indonesian version, Sweet 20, helmed by Ody C. Harahap (Me vs. Mami, Kapan Kawin?).
Transliterated from its South Korean roots by Upi (My Stupid Boss, Belenggu), Sweet 20 adeptly administers a profound adaptation into Indonesian culture and social value. Upi’s adapted script isn’t only changing the film’s geographical setting; it instead induces local view of family in Indonesia’s urban society. Even, the film’s Eid al-Fitr release adds up to the foundation of the story—underlying its ode to the motherhood, lost dream, and family’s worth.
Fatmawati (Niniek L. Karim), the aggravated granny, is the focus of Sweet 20. Despite her loving intention, her combative nature and tough personality often bring hardship to her only son, Aditya (Lukman Sardi) along the family—the wife, Salma (Cut Tari); the daughter, Luna (Alexa Key); and the son, Juna (Kevin Julio). When the tension she brings makes her daughter-in-law collapse, a plan to send Fatma to nursing house embarks within the family.
In a desperate moment after overhearing the plan, she stops at a whimsical photo studio with an intention to have her final (possibly, funeral) photo taken. That’s where the mysteriously unelaborated miracle comes. The granny transforms into her 20-year-old self (portrayed vigorously by Tatjana Saphira in her potentially career-defining performance) and then calls herself Mieke Wijaya, after her favorite actress back then. With the same old brand new body, Mieke redefines the old saying “youth is wasted on the young” by catching up with her lost youth—including transforming her favorite grandson’s punk band into a retro-pop one and reconnecting with her long time best friend, Hamzah (Slamet Rahardjo).
Sweet 20 comes forth as an uplifting piece of entertainment that keeps felicitating audiences with heartfelt performances from its ensemble, candy-colored visuals and catchy soundtracks. Upi localizes the elements from Miss Granny with enough sensitivity to emanate how Indonesians perceive the concept of family. Meanwhile, Ody C. Harahap brings out the best from the ensemble, crafting electric chemistry which feels grounded but grandiose between each character.
While most of the comedy works in uplifting ways, Sweet 20 also shifts into a darker shade when revisiting Fatma/Mieke’s past. However, this remake isn’t without flaws, especially in shifting the tone from the gleeful ones to the bleaker. There are hiccups in tone-shifting which hinder the film from achieving more profound result—as in highlighting lost youth and lonesome old age (marked with turmoil against senior actress, Widyawati). Hiccups can also be felt in the film’s consistency about the mysterious miracle; there’s no real rule for this, but approaching the end, Sweet 20 feels an urgency to finally reveal a little secret about this miracle.
But, similar as Miss Granny, this adaptation is only as strong, as emotional, and as energetic as the casts, especially the lead. And, Tatjana Saphira has brought vibrancy with her constant electric chemistry with other actors—ranging from Slamet Rahardjo to Kevin Julio. Other stars in supporting roles also emanate earnest warmth, even those with limited screen times, i.e., Tika Panggabean and Widyawati.
Final verdict: Sweet 20 makes an uplifting Miss Granny adaptation with perfect casting, heartfelt chemistry and flood of emotions. Despite the cramped storytelling and occasional hiccups in the narrative, Tatjana Saphira shines in one of possibly Upi, Harahap, and her own best tenures.
Sweet 20 (2017)
Drama, Comedy, Family Directed by: Ody C. Harahap Written by: Upi based on Hwang Dong-hyuk’s Miss Granny (2014) Starred by: Tatjana Saphira, Niniek L. Karim, Lukman Sardi, Kevin Julio, Morgan Oey, Slamet Rahardjo Runtime: 109 mins