Retreading some familiar elements with a subversive story from Ainun’s POV, the third Habibie & Ainun movie might be important if only it’s not weighed down with the character’s over-glorification.

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Habibie & Ainun franchise has quite a storytelling development. While the first movie revolves around the glorified love story between the titular couple—former Indonesia’s president and the First Lady, the follow-ups are aiming to be somewhat prequels with an overlapping timeline. The second movie, deliberately titled Rudy Habibie, follows the story of Habibie (portrayed excellently by Reza Rahadian) during his academic years in Germany before he reunites with Ainun (previously portrayed by Bunga Citra Lestari). Meanwhile, the third movie follows a subversive story of young Ainun (now portrayed by Maudy Ayunda) before finally reuniting with the love of her life.

While mostly treading on familiar grounds which has either been mentioned or shown in the previous movies, Habibie & Ainun 3 mostly goes to some lost chapters in the lives of the titular characters. The plot mirrors Rudy Habibie yet the setting spans between the moment of the familiar meet-cute, the moment Habibie left to pursue academic achievement abroad, and the very moment the couple reunited. When Habibie left, Ainun goes on to pursue her impossible dream—to get to the medical school, which apparently isn’t female-friendly. There she sparked some female emancipation revolution with her colleagues, Arlis (Aghniny Haque) and Soelarto (Kevin Ardilova); while, at the same time, got into another love story (which Habibie deemed as ‘not in the same frequency’) with a law student, Achmad (Jefri Nichol, Dear Nathan), which we have known the ending before their story even began.

review Habibie & Ainun 3 2019: Maudy Ayunda & Jefri Nichol
Maudy Ayunda & Jefri Nichol in Habibie & Ainun 3 (2019)

Hanung Bramantyo returns to helm the third movie, bringing along his new flair for dramatic, pop subversive stories. After similar tenures in Kartini and Bumi Manusia, Habibie & Ainun 3 seems to match this profile perfectly. Framed as a chapter in Habibie & Ainun story, the subversive feminism story finds a way through Ainun’s effort to stand against underestimating views of women in the early years of the country, where patriarchal thoughts inherited from Dutch colonial era and local monarchs are still at large. As in Bramantyo’s previous movies, the discourse of feminism elements are almost always on the surface as he relies more on the established source materials to rationalize a lot of things. There’s a sense that, instead of observing the issue profoundly, Habibie & Ainun 3 opts to deliver the emancipation message that we already know.

Interestingly, this third movie follows the formula of the second movie pretty well; but, it feels like a completely different kind of romance. The culprit is Jefri Nichol, who portrays Ainun’s love-interest, Achmad. While presenting his typical punk-type lover boy, there’s a certain growth in his performance. Not only does his abs distracting attention, but there’s also a subtlety in his acting that complements Ayunda’s effortless charm. While their storyline is highly predictable, Nichol and Ayunda’s performance helps us to sympathize with their romance despite the impending doom.

Reza Rahadian’s Habibie is relegated as a supporting role, which functions as a framing device and a figment of the past. However, his portrayal of young and old Habibie functions much more to technical improvement in the whole industry. For the portrayal of old Habibie, the make-up team applies some exquisitely balanced prosthetic make-up that transforms Rahadian into Habibie quite authentically but, at the same time, retains some features that make Rahadian himself. The make-up reminds me of the criminally underrated Hitchcock (2012), which transformed Anthony Hopkins into Hitchcock without having to lose ‘his face’ entirely. The portrayal of young Habibie pushes the filmmaking boundary even further. While the CGI to de-age Reza Rahadian might not be as seamless as in recent Hollywood movies, it’s at least smooth.

While the technical achievement and the acting department excel, the writing might be the weakest point in Habibie & Ainun 3. Similar to other Indonesian biopics, the characterization succumbs into the tendency of over-glorification. While the perceiving of Ainun as a saint figure can be rationalized by making the infatuated Habibie the narrative’s framing device, it weighs down the whole plot.

As a homage to the cherished love story, Habibie & Ainun 3 is a good one; but, it should not weigh more than that.

Habibie & Ainun 3 (2019) 2h 1min | Drama, Romance | 19 December 2019 (Indonesia) Summary: Ainun (Maudy Ayunda), as a teenager at her age, has a unique love story. When he was in Ainun High School, he was known as a smart figure who became an idol at his school and became the ... See full summary »
Countries: IndonesiaLanguages: Indonesian

Furthe movie information: Habibie & Ainun 3 on FilmIndonesia.or.id

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