Bypassing all the character introductory phases, the romance rift in Dilan 1991 is sadly underwhelming even when the chemistry between Iqbaal and Vanesha starts to make sense.
In a decade or two, Dilan, as a character, might still be remembered as an illustrious Indonesian teenage boy icon—rising into some cult status along with Lupus and Si Boy. By that time, it might not be surprising if new incarnations of Dilan will rise into prominence; while, Iqbaal Ramadhan’s exhilarating performance (which beats all the odds) will become a solid benchmark. In like manner, Dilan-Milea romance might also transcend the time, like Galih & Ratna or others (I was about to write: Rangga & Cinta from Ada Apa dengan Cinta?, but then I imagined the backlash). However, that’s not the case for the movies—both Dilan 1990 and Dilan 1991.
The meet-cute story between a high school biker gang warlord and a sweet, normal girl is basically the whole plot of Dilan 1990. Told from the girl’s perspective, the story mostly revolves around the ups and downs that lead to Dilan-Milea-ship. It’s full of happy-go-lucky Dilan’s banters, flirts and other absurd effort to win Milea’s heart; at the same time, the story often over-sells its main character’s charm; over-exaggerates every silly romantic moment; and convinces the audiences that Dilan isn’t just some boy. Without diminishing Iqbaal’s effort, it’s pretty sad that Dilan 1990 is paper-thin.
1991 directly follows up the romantic conclusion in the end of 1990. Bypassing all the introductory phases (which apparently is prolonged into a massive box office movie), the movie jumps into the main conflict. As Dilan and Milea’s relationship grows more intimate, a cracking rift also grows at the same time. At this part, Iqbaal and Vanesha’s chemistry begins to make sense even when the plot often over-exaggerates everything around it. It’s no longer a story about Dilan, whose absurdity steals Milea’s heart; it’s through and through a story about Dilan and Milea. I was led to believe into this; and, that belief leads me into thinking that Dilan 1991 will, at least, not be as paper-thin as the predecessor.
Be informed that the second book of Dilan-Milea romance, indeed, takes a predictably more somber atmosphere. I wasn’t particularly a fan of the second book—which, even though less sketchy and comical than the first one, is a trainwreck. The book fails to give more emotional context and connection that leads to the book sentimental nature. Emulating the perspective of Milea, the book fails to be objective in observing the crumbling relationship. Since the author also co-directed Dilan 1991, expect this adaptation to be quite faithful to the source material.
In adapting the sequel, Dilan 1991 feels incoherent and jumpy. Enticing moments are everywhere, but they’re good as a standalone moment. As a whole narrative body, each moment feels distant to each other, especially when it reaches the climax. With Dilan and Milea’s relationship that start to be believable; Dilan 1991 fails to deliver the story as an emotional journey, rather it’s a showcase of several events that happen in Dilan-Milea-ship sorted in chronological order. It’s easy to be sentimental with this kind of setup; but, not sympathetic.
Final verdict: The romance and the rift in Dilan 1991, which should have been the an emerging emotional journey, is sadly underwhelming even when the chemistry between Iqbaal and Vanesha starts to make sense.
Dilan 1991 (2019)
Drama, Romance, Coming of Age, Adaptation Directed by: Fajar Bustomi, Pidi Baiq Written by: Titien Wattimena, Pidi Baiq based on a novel by Pidi Baiq Starred by: Iqbaal Ramadhan, Vanesha Priscillia Runtime: 121 mins