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Marissa Anita makes horror debut in Joko Anwar's 'A Mother's Love'

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, October 6, 2018  /  11:03 pm
Marissa Anita makes horror debut in Joko Anwar's 'A Mother's Love'

Marissa Anita plays Murni, a mother who discovers mysterious children in a house's attic. (HBO Asia/File)

Following her role in the 2017 teen drama Galih dan Ratna (Galih and Ratna), actress Marissa Anita makes her horror debut in Joko Anwar’s A Mother’s Love.

Penned by Joko himself, A Mother’s Love follows the story of Murni (Marissa Anita) who discovers mysterious children in an attic. Her life with her son, Jodi (Muzakki Ramdhan), will never be the same as apparently the attic is the hiding place of Wewe Gombel, a female ghost who kidnaps children, and rescuing them means disturbing the ghost.

“I never thought I’d be in a horror film,” said Marissa Anita during a recent press conference in Jakarta, admitting that she actually fears horror movies. “But when I read the script, I thought that it’s more drama than horror, with high emotional levels.”

Marissa explained that she did not do any research about the ghost before filming. “I asked Joko about everything, he was able to give me the backstory and he really helped me to shape the character of Murni,” Marissa said.

Murni is said to be quite a challenging character. She has to maintain her love for her son despite being psychologically and emotionally disturbed by Wewe Gombel. “I was inspired by my mother who takes care of her three children. As a mother, sometimes she gets annoyed by her children, but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love them. But I wasn’t imitating her. I can feel what she feels because we’re close enough,” Marissa said.

Read also: Joko Anwar explores emotional layers of Indonesian ghost in ‘Folklore: A Mother’s Love’

Director Joko Anwar (left), actor Muzakki Ramdhan (center) and actress Marissa Anita (right) talk at a press conference for 'A Mother's Love' on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 at Grand Hyatt, Central Jakarta.Director Joko Anwar (left), actor Muzakki Ramdhan (center) and actress Marissa Anita (right) talk at a press conference for 'A Mother's Love' on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 at Grand Hyatt, Central Jakarta. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Joko first cast Marissa in his 2015 series Halfworlds. During the press conference and phone interview with The Jakarta Post, he often praised her acting. “Actors should be intelligent so they can accept my direction well and later develop it into something that is beyond my expectation,” Joko said. “I think Marissa exceeds that.”

Marissa is no stranger in the Indonesian film industry. She garnered attention in Selamat Pagi, Malam (In the Absence of the Sun, 2014), 3 Nafas Likas (2014), Istirahatlah Kata-kata (Solo, Solitude, 2016) and Galih dan Ratna. But it does not mean she accepts every role that is offered to her.   

She usually notices two things when selecting a film: the script and the director. “If the script makes me feel something and the director does his best because of his understanding and love of the film, I’d take it,” Marissa said. “I have declined several scripts because I was afraid I’d disappoint the director by not being able to give my best and did not 'feel' the script.”

A Mother’s Love is one of six episodes in HBO Asia’s Folklore anthology. It had its world premiere at the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) held on Sept. 6 to 16 in Toronto, Canada, but will be aired for the first time via HBO, HBO GO and HBO On Demand on Oct. 7. (kes)

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