Review: A: Aku, Benci & Cinta—an adaptation of Wulanfadi’s best-selling novel of the same title, attempts to match up high school romance with circumstantial comedy and many layers of conflict at one. To carry the plan, Rizki Balki’s film features Indonesia’s most prominent teenage actors ranging from Jefri Nichol, Amanda Rawles to Indah Permatasari.
In the core of A, Anggia (Permatasari), a boyish girl and school’s second most popular guy, is in deep feud with Alvaro (Nichol), school’s most notorious popular guy, who keeps annoying her with any possible mean. The more Anggia resents Alvaro, the more they become close to each other by one chance or two. As predictable as it might be, there’s actually some spark of affection between them, but it takes some time before that feeling blooms.
While A successfully distances itself from other Indonesian young adult romance, it is apparently problematic. Most striking problem which struck A isn’t that it’s cramped with coming-of-age clichés, but that it greedily attempts to put everything altogether in a vault without ever reach their full-fledged potentials. Alvaro and Anggia’s tug of war is the film’s most presentable material; yet the film has already introduced the ‘Triple A’ arc before that. Triple A arc refers to a complicated love-triangle between three childhood friends, Alvaro, Alex (Brandon Salim) and Athala (Rawles). Those two conflicts collide, at some point, to some immediate emotional outburst without immediate impact to the storytelling.
Another problem is how A is presented. The idea to create a coming-of-age romantic comedy goes off balance. Balki, as director, is unable to craft romantic atmosphere out of Alvaro & Anggia’s potential story arc. The film’s best shots for romance—the music room scene and the prom night scene—feel clinic instead of romantic. Even, Nichol who has previously sparked in a high school romance, Dear Nathan, barely emanates his romantic persona. A has a penchant to overdo the comedy side of romcom, which apparently shifts the whole tone of the film and makes it difficult to take it too seriously (even in a scene which needs floods of emotion).
As much as the idea is compelling and fresh, A: Aku, Benci & Cinta is unable to fully transfer its potential into a decent coming-of-age romance. It feels cramped, underdeveloped and, most unfortunately, unable to even convey audiences the philosophy of the fashioned A.