Review: In an era where injecting traveling utopia and road trip has been a popular formula in Indonesian film industry, Naya Anindita’s Berangkat! pushes that trope into a whole different level. Her latest road trip feature thrusts the R-rated boundary into borderline absurdity. Weirdly, the sheer bedlam is quite enjoyable. Thanks to the magic mushroom.
While the magic mushroom wouldn’t appear on screen until an hour passing by, the effect has always been there from the beginning, from the introduction of the film’s main protagonists—Jano (Tara Budiman), Joana (Ayushita) and Dika (Ringgo Agus Rahman). Those three close chaps immediately engage in a road trip to Ijen before heading to Bali before encountering a Herbalove-addicted hippie, Gimbal (Tanta Ginting). Fueled by thick friendship, blind love, academic ambition, weird science (as in John Hughes’ Weird Science), and mechanophilia fetish, the motley crue’s hit the road.
Berangkat! accelerates at top speed of hilarity at the beginning, throwing comedic moment in absurd fashion as in Dika’s third-person narration of what Joana’s revelation of Jano’s crush’s intention to move to Bali, which is basically this film’s motor. Before long, things get more absurd as Gimbal (trans. Crochet braids) enters the voyage, when the group decides to rent a retro VW Kombi, as he claims to be the car’s husband. Thirty minutes into the game and Naya Anindita has put us into a kinda enjoyable deadpan mode. Thanks to the magic mushroom.
At some points, it’s almost implicitly stated that destination isn’t going to be the focus more than the underlying journey. As the group ventures further, conflicts begin to unravel in predictably absurd fashion brings the group to challenge the friendship established in the beginning of the film. Those conflicts are presented to emanate an impression that the journey is ‘the thing’ yet Berangkat! goes too far obsessed with such sense that, after some detours and check-points, the destinations don’t matter anymore.
Band of conflicts brought up during the road trip barely get conclusions that matter. Most of them are easily resolved with [fill-in-the-blank] ex machina kind of solution (one of the most apparent is Gimbal ex machina) and they don’t immediately affect the characters’ personality. While road trip is always a vehicle to craft a story about life/character-changing experience, Berangkat defies that stereotype. Characters exit the film as the ones they once entered and they simply ‘berangkat’ (trans. take off) to have a fun ride, which culminates in Seth Rogen-Evan Goldberg-esque magic mushroom scene, which feels enjoyably trippy but goes out of hand eventually. Ijen doesn’t matter anymore; neither does Bali. Thanks to the magic mushroom.
While the rating is only at borderline R-rated, it might signify Berangkat’s purpose to have fun irresponsibly. The narrative falters entering the second half and the resolution doesn’t matter anymore, but the film’s sheer absurdity is a gem, an enjoyable one. Thanks to the magic mushroom.