Review: Sobat Ambyar / The Heartbreak Club (2021)

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Review Sobat Ambyar / The Heartbreak Club (2021)

Heartbreak is arguably the second most universal thing after love. To say that everyone who knows how to love knows how broken heart feels like might be an innocent understatement; but, after all, it’s universally a feeling that people try to avoid. For the late Didi Kempot (1966 – 2020), however, heartbreak is a source of inspiration in writing his folk songs. Dubbed as ‘The Godfather of Broken Heart’, the Indonesian singer had written hundreds of sentimental songs to ironically dance to. The singer was a folk sensation back in the 90s who found the career resurged in the recent years. Sobat Ambyar (a.k.a. The Heartbreak Club), directed by Charles Gozali (Finding Srimulat) and Bagus Bramanti (writer of sleeper-hit, Yowis Ben), is a light rom-com inspired by the finest and the bluest hits of the heartbreak icon. Just like the common theme in the artist’s repertoire, broken heart is the epicenter of the narrative.

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Sobat Ambyar begins with a scene straight from Kempot‘s concert in which Jatmiko (portrayed by a brilliant newcomer, Bhishma Mulia) singing his heart out with tears in his eyes before finally falling unconscious. He’s a shy owner of a dying coffee shop whose love-life changes drastically after meeting Saras (Denira Wiraguna), a fair lady with reputations of breaking men’s heart. She makes an extravagant entrance to Jatmiko’s life with her intimidating beauty and nonchalant teasers that contradict the man’s gingerly nature. If not for the endless support from his sister, Anjani (Sisca JKT48) and his best friend, Kopet (Erick Estrada, Yowis Ben), Jatmiko wouldn’t have the chance to woo Saras. But, does she live up to the reputation? Quick answer: she does.

Review Sobat Ambyar (2021)
Didi Kempot sings in front of the chanting crowd, including Bhishma Mulia as Jatmiko in Sobat Ambyar (2021)

The narrative foundation is simple and quite linear with Jatmiko’s tendency to find solace and relate his lovelorn situation to the singer’s most lyrically relatable songs, including the film’s anthem, ‘Cidro’ (trans. broken vow), that sums up his love suffering. It starts out like an ordinary meet-cute story until the writers, Bramanti and Gea Rexy (also Yowis Ben), decide to paint Saras in a malicious, one-dimensional palette. The story barely indulges in the honeymoon period that makes the heartbreak worse, except for some tender moments between the leads, albeit generic. Saras’ main role is the ultimate heartbreaker and she does it elegantly. “You told me to stay well, but, in the end, you’re the one who made me sick,” Jatmiko confronts Saras for breaking his heart. From there, Sobat Ambyar takes a sharp drift and enters overindulging phases of grief to let Kempot‘s songs shines in a perfect juxtaposition with the protagonist’s situation.

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It isn’t always wholesome in the narrative department. The plot ebbs and flows with each passing song and each passing stage of grief losing some pivotal cohesion in the process. The story doesn’t give Saras any chance to explain herself as a sophisticated catalyst to Jatmiko’s growth as an individual. The plot doesn’t do the justice to some subplots including the floundering coffee shop that becomes the epicenter of all events including the meet-cute, Jatmiko’s family backstories with her sister, as well as an out-of-place ‘Munas Patah Hati’ a.k.a. Heartbreak Gathering. What the plot does eventually is making a grounded, highly connectible heartbreak story that feels familiar for everyone. Therefore, the break-up scene and what follows are never some spectacular moments, but rather non-complicated yet well-crafted ones that somehow invite audiences to sympathize and get reminded of the most hurtful break-ups.

The ordeal, however, would eventually give Mulia moments to deliver his breakthrough performance outshining other casts in the ensemble. After all, it’s his character’s story’s grief and how he’s coping up with it. The newcomer actor takes everyone by surprise with his innocently transformative micro-expression that transports audiences to step on his character’s shoes. After all, this tribute to the everlasting works of Kempot isn’t always wholesome in the narrative department; however, Sobat Ambyar‘s grounded, modest story and Mulia‘s captivating performance is enough of a win for the represented heartbroken fellows.

The Heartbreak Club (2021) 101min | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 14 January 2021 (USA) Summary: Coping with heartbreak, the shy owner of floundering cafe find solace in the Javanese love songs of Didi Kempot.
Countries: IndonesiaLanguages: Indonesian

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