“Happiness is a personal responsibility,” Kale (Ardhito Pramono) shares his life advice to Awan (Rachel Amanda) at the edge of their relationship that never happened in Nanti Kita Cerita tentang Hari Ini (NKCTHI). His one-sided withdrawal from commitment is mainly responsible to catalyst the melodramatic third act of the story. However, Kale’s reluctance, as implied, is not without a root; and, thanks to director Angga Dwimas Sasongko and writer, M. Irfan Ramly (Love for Sale duology), he isn’t going to just get away with it. Therefore, Story of Kale: When Someone’s in Love, a spin-off and a prequel, seeks to walk down a memory lane and find the sought-after redemption.
Related Post: Review: Love for Sale (2018)
Story of Kale takes a few step back not so long before the present-day event in NKCTHI begins. The narrative juxtaposes moments from the past and the present to unravel the bitter love that has made him a sour, commitment-fearing individual. Kale —working as a band crew-cum-additional player for Arah— learns how to love and to be loved from Dinda (Aurelie Moeremans), the band’s manager whom he saves from an abusive relationship. He promises to be a better man for Dinda, who has yet to get over the trauma after enduring years of abuse and gaslighting. In his naive thought, a love amateur like him can only hope not to disappoint his lover; but, apparently, life has another plan.
From the start, the story—clocking in on 77 minutes only—has hinted on its central theme about toxic relationship with an enticing, albeit implicit, question. What poisons a relationship and makes it toxic? Story of Kale appears as a study case seeking to provide a closure to the question. In a contrast fashion, it depicts the titular character’s struggle not to become the kind of man like Dinda’s former lover, Argo (Arya Saloka). But, how different could he be?
Argo is depicted as the poster boy of toxic relationship. He tries to dominate his lover whenever he can; when he can’t, he doesn’t shy away to resort to violence and verbal abuse —spitting out mean words to Dinda in the name of love. Kale, on the other hand, doesn’t erupt into violence and doesn’t verbally abuse his lover for things he can’t control. Yet, love itself has consumed his soul without him knowing; gradually, his assuring, consoling love turns into an insecure love that won’t let go. When things get out of hand, Kale begins to show patterns —a series of guilt trips, erratic behavior and sudden appeals of reconciliation. Here we go again, back at where it begins without any answer but a vague realization.
Related Post: Review: Nanti Kita Cerita tentang Hari Ini (2020)
Dwimas Sasongko packs the present story a.k.a. the separation night as a symbolism-laden one-setting drama. Sets in a studio house where Kale and Dinda live in together for some time, the setting represents how their relationship has become for them: a rented commitment. From there, the story revisits the past accordingly —chronicling what went wrong between the two of them. Upon visiting the early half of the past, Dwimas Sasongko’s direction excels in building moments that last with Ramly’s eloquent and concise dialogues. However, when things get sour, there seems to be a loose bolt in the compelling story. Not only does the staging of conflicts seem awkward and barely grounded (often resulting in unrealistic poses for the characters), Pramono’s range for a more dramatic sequence is limited. The jump he made from being an independent musician into a supporting actor with only limited role in NKCTHI has not prepared him enough to become a leading man .
Story of Kale: When Someone’s in Love, in the end, provides just the adequate backstory to the character’s infamous quote. It provides the story how he steals the term from ex lover and, now that we know his story, uses it for a misleading advice to Awan. It’s a term he should have deciphered better by reflecting on his doomed relationship with Dinda; but, instead, he takes it too literally and passes it to someone who doesn’t deserve it the way he does. Slipping out of love is easy and that’s what Kale attempts to convey; however, slipping out of conveying it is, in fact, as pitiful as a lovefool.