Poor script a letdown in
'Love is Cinta'

Rizal Iwan, Contributor, Jakarta

Love is Cinta (Drama, about 130 minutes) Starring Acha Septriasa, Raffi Ahmad, Irwansyah, Andhika Pratama, Juwita Maritsa, Henidar Amroe, Tio Pakusadewo, Unique Priscilla. Directed by Hanny R. Saputra. Produced by Starvision.

I have always believed that Hanny R. Saputra is a seriously gifted filmmaker, who is somehow constantly stuck with bad scripts.

He boosted the lame-scripted Virgin into a gutsy film with attitude. He made up for Mirror's weak screenplay by giving Nirina Zubir a plausible character arc and some serious scares.

He even saved a little dignity for the hopelessly written Heart with some decent direction. In the end, though, poor scripts always destroyed his endeavors.

His latest film, the stupefyingly-titled Love is Cinta, is obviously a victim of bad writing. Possibly a rip-off of 1999 Hong Kong tearjerker Fly Me to Polaris, the film finds Ryan (Irwansyah) killed in an accident and given a second chance to come back to life and confess his undeclared love for his best friend Cinta (Acha) within three days.

Only, he must do it in someone else's body, as Doni (Raffi), so there will be a lot of convincing to do.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the only thing in the scriptwriter's mind, so he spends almost the entire movie with Ryan/Doni blabbering about things only he and Cinta know.

And not only that, he keeps doing the same thing to his mother, his father -- even Cinta's sister. After a while, how many facts do you actually need, so just get on with the story!

After the opening sequence, which feels like a lost alternative ending for Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?, the film seems like a further extension of Heart's autistic world, one that is so obliviously detached from the logic and consequences of the real world (Ryan outrunning a taxi? Live TV news coverage with elaborate multiple angles? Nirina Zubir playing a deadpan TV reporter?).

Adding weight to its taxing length, the film gets sucked up in its whirl of repetitive and ineffectual scenes. And this is a case of a film where dialog totally loses all its purpose, especially to move the story forward.

The characters' actions and reactions are blurry, and none of them are very smart, either. But at least this gives us an explanation of why Ryan takes such a long time to achieve his mission: He doesn't have much going on up there, that lad.

I mean, what do you expect from a guy who is taken to a hospital morgue and blankly asks, ""Is this heaven?"" (Speaking of which, the morgue scene is not only offensive and unfunny, it could very well give a whole new meaning to the phrase ""fear of death"".)

If that's a portrayal of an angel of death -- played oh-so-painstakingly by Agastyawe -- we should be worried about the afterlife.

Irwansyah's performance really fits together with the said blankness (and that is not a compliment) and, apparently, Acha's whole definition of acting is pulling different kinds of crying faces (and her famous ""is she crying or laughing?"" look).

She, along with Raffi, overacts and wipes their potentially earnest performances off the screen. I won't even honor the annoying presence of constant crooner Andhika with a sentence.

Unfortunately, this time, Hanny's direction can't save the film from sinking.

For example, he doesn't identify a link between Irwansyah and Raffi's performances to establish that they are basically the same character.

Also, why he directs Raffi to go sinister in the desolate building scene is practically inexplicable. And that horror of an ending will leave you high with disbelief (no pun intended).

I still long for the day when Hanny can finally find a script worthy of his directing skills.

Sadly, that has not come yet. 1/2 (out of *****)

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