The high and low of Seven Women
The Jakarta Post
7 Hati 7 Cinta 7 Wanita
(95 minutes, Anak Negeri Film)
Starring Jajang C. Noer, Marcella Zalianty, Happy Salma, Olga Lydia, Intan Kieflie, Henky Solaiman
Directed by Robby Ertanto
Written by Robby Ertanto
Produced by Intan Kieflie, Revi Budiman
Another take on women’s issues hits the screen, and it’s more – it also marks a debut commercial feature by young and talented filmmaker Robby Ertanto.
Movies themed and centered around women mired in social and personal conflicts are not new on the local film scene.
Take Eliana Eliana, a 2002 drama directed by Riri Riza, which tells the story of a girl who strives to survive in the hustle and bustle of Jakarta.
There is also Slamet Rahardjo Djarot’s Marsinah: Cry Justice, a film involving the highly sensitive case of the brutal murder of woman laborer Marsinah. Afterward, came Berbagi Suami (Love For Share), Nia Dinata’s project portraying polygamy in the nation and Perempuan Punya Cerita (Chants of Lotus), an omnibus of four short films about marginalized women in Indonesia.
Now, young filmmaker Robby Ertanto, who is also a Jakarta Art Institute (IKJ) student, comes up with his take on women’s’ issues with his first commercial flick, 7 Hati 7 Cinta 7 Wanita (7 Hearts 7 Loves 7 Women), highlighting the lives of seven ordinary women with different backgrounds and ethnicities in the capital.
The stories of the seven women flow through narration by leading character Kartini (played well by renowned senior actress Jajang C. Noer), a 45-year-old obstetrician, who is inadvertently often confronted with the problems of her female patients.
There is Ratna (Intan Kieflie), a head-scarved woman who finally becomes pregnant after living with her husband of five years, Marwan (Achmad Zaki).
She works hard to support the family, while her husband always asks her for money and has never accompanied her to the local medical center to visit the obstetrician.
Ratna has a 14-year-old sister and junior high school student named Rara (Tamara Tyasmara), who secretly happens to visit the same gynecologist as her older sister.
She comes to Kartini and claims that she has not had her period and is beginning to grow worried that she might have become pregnant after having sexual intercourse with boyfriend Acin (Albert Halim), a 15-year-old high school student.
Another patient is Yanti (Happy Salma), a prostitute who is diagnosed with cervical cancer and always goes to the hospital with her pimp, Bambang (Rangga Djoned).
Bambang, who escorts Yanti everyday while she solicits regular customers on the streets, actually has a thing for Yanti and is willing to do anything for the woman he loves.
Of Chinese descent, Lili (Olga Lydia) knocks Kartini’s heart as a pregnant woman who has been sexually molested by her husband Randy (Tegar Satrya) until she has turned black and blue.
Kartini is amazed at how hard Lili tries to hold on through the bad times and even protects her abusive husband, as she explains that the abuse is an indication of her husband’s love and expression of care.
Also meet Lastri (Radia), a cheerful obese woman who lives happily with her husband Hadi (Verdi Solaiman) and struggles to get pregnant.
The young couple brings laughs to moviegoers with their comedic-yet-romantic scenes as a newly married item.
Kartini herself has a dark past with her relationships with the opposite sex, which keep her in doubt about long-term commitment.
During her fruitful years as an obstetrician, she defends women’s equality and rights. Her experiences have made her cynical, as she sees all men as harsh and irresponsible — until the presence of a young-yet-energetic doctor Rohana (Marcella Zalianty) widely opens her eyes to the man’s world.
As the film rolls and the story goes on, it turns out that each character is connected to one another.
The flick portrays how each woman struggles to deal with their problems and their struggle for happiness. Some are successful in winning the “battle”, while others still are drowned by the same crises and dilemmas.
Robby’s name might have not been heard among moviegoers, but he certainly has the talent to put himself firmly in the Indonesian movie scene.
For instance, he does not need a story of struggling people living on a border line, or a huge crew to shoot films in the juggles or hinterlands of Indonesia.
Based on true stories and taken from the inspiration of people around him, the 22-year-old filmmaker smartly captures the bitter-sweet real life of seven women in Jakarta and goes deep into each character.
The story is simple, but it remains poignant and is not simplistic.
“The idea popped up when my friends came to me and told me about their problems. This story is something that we usually find in our neighborhoods,” said Robby.
“I don’t want to teach the public something. I just want to share this story with people.”
Robby kept the idea for two years and decided to finally bring the story to the big screen when he found out that my mother was ill. “Then I felt like I wanted to give something special to my mother as a woman,” he added.
All the leading and supporting actors do a good job in this movie, as they go all out, showing their best parts.
Jajang C. Noer, who once bagged the best supporting actress prize at the 1992 Indonesian Film Festival through her acting in Bibir Mer (Mer’s Lips), continues her remarkable journey in the film world through her portrayal of a motherly doctor, who also becomes a shoulder to cry on for her patients.
Happy Salma also gives a notable performance as Yanti, claiming the best supporting actress award at the 2010 Indonesian Film Festival, while Intan Kieflie’s burst of emotion successfully touches our hearts.
In 2010, 7 Hati earned six nomination at the Indonesian Film Festival, while at the recent Indonesian Movie Awards in May this year, it was nominated in eight categories and bagged two awards through Happy Salma as best supporting actress and Rangga Djoned as best newcomer.
Robby could not have been prouder as his film has been screened at the international level and was slated as the opening movie at the Indonesian Film Festival in Australia in 2010.
Verdict: A heart-warming drama staring an outstanding cast and offering a genuine reality check on Indonesian women.
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