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'Love for Sale': Putting a price tag on human connection

Reza Mardian
Reza Mardian

Film enthusiast and a big fan of Disney, Pixar, Studio Ghibli, and all films in the running for an Oscar or Festival Film Indonesia award

Jakarta  /  Mon, April 2, 2018  /  11:37 am
'Love for Sale': Putting a price tag on human connection

41 and single: Richard A. Widjaja (Gading Marten) signs up at Love Incorporated, a company that provides an opportunity for the hopeless, while not always romantic. (Visinema Pictures via YouTube/File)

We're living in a world where nothing is free.

While some argue that "love is something that you can never monetize", through this film, Andi Bachtiar Yusuf manages to mesmerize Indonesian moviegoers to contemplate this simple, yet thought-provoking question: Can we put a price tag on love?

Richard A. Widjaja (Gading Marten) is a 41-year-old single man living with only his tortoise and spending most of his time either by staying home alone or watching soccer in a café. When one of his friends is about to get married, he is challenged to prove himself by bringing along a date to the wedding reception. Desperate, he decides to reach out to Love Incorporated, an online platform which promises love, to find a date — for a price, of course.

It turns out that the date does not end that night, as he must stay with the girl, Arini Kusuma (Dela Dartyan) for 45 days. In their numbered days, Richard must open up to someone else and build a connection he had always avoided before.

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Long story short, Arini manages to transform Richard into a better person. However, when Richard thinks of marrying her, Arini vanishes. Richard then learns that Arini is only doing her job and might have never really loved him. And even though it only lasted for 45 days, Richard is exposed to love and he really does change for the better.

Here's my thoughts: There's nothing wrong with the story. The premise itself is very clever. It even argues a taboo, yet powerful question: Is Love Incorporated playing a trick? Can love be monetized? Could a service like Love Incorporated make our world a better place?

While it's just fiction, we cannot deny these intriguing, relevant questions in our modern urbanized society. We see Richard lives alone, and even though he works and hangs out and surrounds himself with many people, he eventually still goes home and sleeps alone. To be able to feel love makes him a softer individual to his inferiors and be more open to his surroundings. Love transforms humans to be a better person. And if a person can never find his or her soul mate (for whatever reason), but can be exposed to the feeling by paying a certain amount of money, would that be morally wrong?

It would be morally wrong if Richard felt tricked and betrayed by the company and the woman accompanying him. But before any physical contact with any women provided by Love Incorporated, a customer is required to have fully consented and be aware that it is just a professional service. Richard had consented to use the service, and he knew that it would end at some point. Richard even expected it was going to be just one date, but all the interaction between them happened so gradually and naturally that he started to believe their chemistry was real. So, Love Incorporated was not the bad guy, nor was Arini and the other women working there to provide the service of love.

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Does it make the world a better place though? 

From the film, Richard is not heartbroken. On the contrary, he realizes he's been a jerk to his employees and knew that he should find Arini to get closure and confirmation.

Love Incorporated gives its customers love. The love they provide was not just physical interaction nor social status. It's a warm fuzzy feeling that makes their customers happy and helps them to be a better person. So, if love can change our world to be a better place — even if we need to pay for it — what's the harm in that?

Visinima Pictures manages to ask us to think together. I am more than positive it will be nominated in Festival Film Indonesia 2018 in the Best Leading Actor category, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress. Delia is too far-fetched if she submits herself for the Best Leading Actress category, but I'm positive she could bring the Piala Citra (Citra Trophy) if she's nominated in the supporting actress category.

A special shout out to Gading Marten for playing a character so vulnerable, yet also relatable. Please just give him his Piala Citra now. (dev/kes)


Reza Mardian is a film enthusiast and a big fan of Disney, Pixar, Studio Ghibli and all films in the running for an Oscar or Festival Film Indonesia award. He is also a nursing graduate who is not working as a nurse.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.