Adapted from the best-selling book—from author Ika Natassa—which shares a literary universe with Critical Eleven, Antologi Rasa is another adult romance that also delves into the world of career-driven individuals. The story gravitates around the complicated friend-zones comprising of multiple love triangle with multiple unrequited love. In a perfect world, such a kind of story might become a thoughtful view of modern-day relationships in a way that When Harry Met Sally does back in the 80s. Sadly, this isn’t that perfect world.
Before anything else, Antologi Rasa is a casting mishmash. While it’s not necessarily a lousy decision to cast and re-cast actors for the same character in different movies, what happened in this one is ridiculously more complicated than that. The root is: while sharing the same universe, Ika Natassa’s books were not exclusively ordered by a single studio hence the mishmash. Anyone (aside from the book readers) who has watched Critical Eleven might recognize the main protagonist of Antologi Rasa, Harris Risjad (portrayed by Herjunot Ali)and Keara Tedjakusuma (Carissa Perusset) have made a brief appearance in Monty Tiwa & Robert Ronny’s 2017 drama. Harris, the sibling of Aldebaran Risjad on the other movie, was portrayed by Refal Hadi, who’s also being cast in Rizal Mantovani’s 2019 drama, not as Harris, but as Ruly, Harris’ friend-and-foe peer.
On the paper, the story should have been accommodating all characters with their respective feelings to get tangled in complexity. Harris, Keara, Ruly, and Denise (during the credit, the name is written as ‘Demise’ possibly intentionally—portrayed by Atikah Suhaime) were all new kids in an international bank. Bound by mutual struggle during their first placement, each one of them started to develop feelings for each other. Harris, the happy-go-lucky playboy, is head-over-heels in love with Keara; yet, his love is unsurprisingly unrequited. Keara sees him as a mere ‘special friend’ because her heart has already been stolen by Ruly, who never returns Keara’s love and goes for Denise instead. Once again, in a perfect world, it could’ve been a study of modern relationships; but, it isn’t a perfect world.
The real problem is the emotional untranslatability of the source material. The book provides each pivotal individual with personal p.o.v.—something that in the movie is translated into a character’s voice-overs. In comparison, Critical Eleven also shares the same presentation in the book; however, when translated into a motion picture, the movie transfers it into intimacy—a visual language that speaks more even without explaining voice-overs. In Antologi Rasa, the voice-over feels a little patronizing and, at some time, lazy; most of the time, the device is used to bypass all the emotional build-up and move forward to the next plot-points. There’s complexity in the love triangle that makes it an interesting take of modern-day relationships (among yuppies especially), but the movie keeps bypassing the complexity for the sake of moving forward with the next moment in the narrative. In that sense, Antologi Rasa can only connect more effectively to the book readers. In a perfect world, such a complicated relationship is built carefully on characters and intimacy between them, but again, this isn’t the perfect world.
Another reason why intimacy has never been built up is the lack of chemistry between the three leads. It’s hard to believe that Harris, Keara, and Ruly are BFFs before they started having crush with each other. Instead of being friendly, they are being awkward with each other. The symptom is apparent from even the first scene: the arrival of Harris and Keara to Singapore. I hardly see the chemistry between the two BFFs. It is quite ironic given the fact that in Critical Eleven, a similarly complicated story, the chemistry between the leads was so enormous that we almost believe that they’re really troublesome couple. In a perfect world, romance like this would be all about chemistry; but, it isn’t the perfect world.
In a perfect world, Antologi Rasa could have restructured the book and focused more on what matters, but it isn’t the perfect world. In that perfect world, Antologi Rasa would be narrated evenly and smoothly, and then made itself a ‘When Harry Met Sally’ disciple; but, how many times should I bring this up? This isn’t the perfect world.
Antologi Rasa (2019)
Romance, Drama, Adaptation Directed by Rizal Mantovani Written by Ferry Lesmana, Donny Dhirgantoro based on a novel by Ika Natassa Starred by Herjunot Ali, Carissa Perusset, Refal Hady, Atika Suhaime Runtime: 108 minutes