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'Dilan 1991': A big chunk of charming, romantic cheesiness

Josa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, March 1, 2019  /  04:26 pm
'Dilan 1991': A big chunk of charming, romantic cheesiness

Lovebirds: Dilan (Iqbaal Ramadhan, right) and Milea (Vanesha Prescilla) ride through 1990s-era Bandung in a still from 'Dilan 1991'. The highly awaited sequel continues where the carefree teen romance left off in last year's smash hit, 'Dilan 1990'. (Youtube.com/-)

Perhaps it is the uncertain future or a sense of impending doom, but nostalgia for the days gone by seems de rigueur these days, from fashion to entertainment.

Nowhere else does this ring truer than for the wildly successful Dilan 1990, which was Indonesia’s No. 1 box office hit last year.

Adapted from Pidi Baiq’s teen romance novel, Dilan: Dia Adalah Dilanku Tahun 1990 (Dilan: He’s My Dilan in 1990), over 6.3 million people saw Dilan 1990 in theaters, with 1 million tickets sold on opening day.

Such is the power of nostalgic romance, and the long-awaited sequel Dilan 1991 aimed to replicate the first movie's box office numbers. Things seemed promising, considering that the sequel sold around 800,000 tickets for its premiere screening.

Adapted from the second volume of Pidi’s Dilan saga, Dilan Bagian Kedua: Dia adalah Dilanku Tahun 1991 (Dilan Part Two: He's My Dilan in 1991), Dilan 1991 picks up immediately after the events of the first installment, with high school sweethearts Dilan (Iqbaal Ramadhan) and Milea (Vanesha Prescilla) filling their days with saccharine one-liners in their own little world of romance.

Once Dilan and Milea step into the real world outside their love zone, however, things start to get messy.

Dilan, who is still part of a motorcycle gang, constantly gets into fights, which worries Milea to no end.

The first half of Dilan 1991 explores the pair’s initial elation at finally becoming an "official" couple, with shots of the two riding Dilan’s motorcycle around the everlastingly romantic and breezy Bandung of the 1990s while engaging in the affectionate banter that seems to be the main appeal of the franchise.

Dilan’s relationship with Milea is the kind of wholesome romance you only see in fiction, even with his supposedly bad-boy image from being part of a rowdy biker gang. Instead of terrorizing neighborhoods, his gang rides together to celebrate that he and Milea are finally dating. It even becomes more sugary-sweet with Milea constantly telling Dilan that she wants to love him forever.

The archetype of the "troubled but cute bad boy with a heart of gold" has been around for a long time, and Iqbaal’s character perfectly encapsulates the trope. While Iqbaal’s star power is certainly enough to fill theater seats on its own, his delivery of the cheesy lines is sure to get them swooning. It seems the role is tailor-made for him.

And yes, Dilan 1991 is as cheesy as it can be. In fact, it is so cheesy that you might as well have a glass of cabernet sauvignon to pair with it.

Its cheesiness, however, is what makes the Dilan movies and books so charming. Idealized, youthful romances filled with starry-eyed optimism definitely has its audience, and tickets are flying off the shelves because the movie certainly delivers on its promises.

Dilan 1991’s forte is its silly romantic lines, and they more than make up for the silliness.

Some viewers might develop lactose intolerance with the huge chunk of cheesiness that is this movie, but its intended audience seemed to eat it up with no digestive disorder. Young women were seen discretely snapping pictures of a particularly key scene, no doubt to post online along with a caption quoting one of the many one-liners in the movie.

Dilan 1991 ends with an obvious sequel hook that literally says, “See you in the Milea solo movie”, so fans should expect another serving of cheesy romance. (hdt)

INFO BOX:

Dilan 1991
Directors: Fajar Bustomi, Pidi Baiq
Production company: Max Pictures
Writers: Titien Wattimmena, Pidi Baiq
Cast: Iqbaal Ramadhan, Vanesha Prescilla, Ira Wibowo, Bucek, Happy Salma, Farhan
Running time: 121 minutes

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