Svetlana Dea’s directorial debut, Mantan (trans. ex-lover) is quite an oddball. It’s a dialogue-heavy romcom, which grounds between a social satire and a pure reconciliation game, but never really ends up being any of them. Sometimes it can be very convincing; but some other times, you’ll wish there would be some footnotes to help you understand anything. By the time you finally get an insight, the film abruptly ends its 75-minute run.
In Mantan, a young bachelor, Adi (Gandhi Fernando), is about to become a married man. Yet, before he becomes one, he needs to have a sense of self-fulfillment. He goes on a quest to fly up 5 different cities to encounter his exes, clear the air between them and find out if one of them might be his godknowswhy soul mate.
Mantan (2017) – Gandhi Fernando & Ayudia Bing Slamet
Adi takes a train to Bandung to meet Daniella (Ayudia Bing Slamet) before flying to Yogyakarta for Frida (Karina Nadila), to Bali for Juliana (Kymberly Ryder), to Medan for Tara (Luna Maya), and back to Jakarta for Deedee (Citra Scholastica) respectively. In each confrontation, Adi would invite the women to his hotel rooms before unraveling their past feud and unearthing their buried problem. Therefore, it’d be a little bit underwhelming if calling this film ‘dialogue-heavy’ because it often becomes ‘argument-heavy.’
Audiences learn about Adi’s past from argument to argument he keeps bringing as the story progresses. Gandhi Fernando’s script nurtures attention to reveal what has actually happened in the past, rather than what would happen if Adi finishes his quest eventually. From there we learn about his backstories along with the timeline and construct. However, the dialogue exchange is too ungenerous in revealing a complete, comprehensible backstory; instead, it gives us a rather jumbled and incongruent background of the protagonist.
Each confrontation leads to argument, which leads to somewhat stale conclusion (only two giving significant impact I recount—encounter with Juliana and Tara). From those confrontations—which Svetlana Dea constructs mostly as bond-lacking exchange of bantz, quips, and retorts—we also learn about the protagonist’s cringe-worthy characters, but not his true intentions. That’s where Mantan cynically achieve the goal, it infamously keeps audiences to stay on each feuds only to understand Adi’s true motivation and/or justification, which we only find out once the credit rolls.
Mantan (2017) – Gandhi Fernando & Citra Scholastica
While it serves its purpose as an electric argument-heavy drive, Mantan could’ve been more believable with more attentions to detail. The hotel room settings keep the intimacy of each confrontation at certain levels, but it fails to justify some significant aspects, such as why the protagonist had to travel from one place to another. Questions like ‘why hotel rooms?’ can simply be addressed with certain reasons like privacy, intimacy or devil-may-care reassurance (of the protagonist’s true nature revealed in a mid-credit scene); but, details should’ve been look after prominently. Like, why on earth would Adi book a twin bed? Consider it high-season; no other room type available and all other hotels are full house.
Drama, Comedy Directed by: Svetlana Dea Written by: Gandhi Fernando Starred by: Gandhi Fernando, Luna Maya, Kymberly Ryder, Ayudia Bing Slamet, Karina Nadila, Citra Scholastica Runtime: 75 mins