The Jakarta Post
A young boy defeats his fear and reaches beyond his dreams in 9 Summers 10 Autums.
Based on a 2011 autobiographical novel of the same title penned by Iwan Setyawan, the movie tells that aspiration may not always come into an overnight dream, but is rather shaped along one's life journey.
There is less self-certainty in young Iwan, who were born and grew up in Batu, East Java. But his determination and survivalist instinct have led him to discover things that he hasn't ever imagined as a child.
The story starts when Iwan (Ihsan Tarore), as a young man living and working in New York, receives a mental visit from his younger self, an elementary school boy clad in white-and-red uniform ' a scene that immediately reminds us of M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense.
Living a prosperous life in one of the world's greatest cities, the kind of life that many Indonesians would envy, Iwan is ironically lonely.
After being robbed on an otherwise empty subway carriage except for the criminal and his victim, Iwan is reminded of his past by the boy.
Born into a poor family in the 1970's in Batu, Malang, Iwan is the middle child and his parent's only son. Bapak (Alex Komang), his father, is exuberant and has high hopes for his son.
Bapak ' a street-educated public van driver ' wants Iwan to be 'a man', encouraging toddler Iwan to practice his punches and get into fights with other boys. However, the quiet and introverted Iwan never managed to fulfill his dad's hopes.
Bapak tirelessly scolds him for spending too much time with his mother and his sisters in the kitchen.
Iwan struggles to find his place at home, always depending on his mom and his older sisters.
He later finds that if courage is something he lacks, then maybe his gift in academics could make his father proud. Tired of having to cope with poverty, he is determined that education can lift him up.
Upon graduating high school, Iwan is offered admission to the prestigious Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) for his excellence in math.
The whole family had to convince Bapak that Iwan should accept admission. Bapak declines saying he needs Iwan to stay and be the man of the family.
Just under two hours, 9 Summers 10 Autumns, has its bumpy moments along the ride, but there are magnificent dramatic gems scattered along the way.
Viewers that have read the book will find the interpretation and adaptation made by director Ifa Isfansyah deserves a hearty praise. Many of the excellent scenes involve Alex and Dewi ' both veteran and award-winning actors. Their performances take attention away from the story of the main character.
Ifa managed to bring his sets and supporting actors to life, from the dirt floor of the family's home and kampung surroundings in Batu, Iwan's rustic dorm room in Bogor and the densely populated area Iwan lived during his time in Jakarta.
Ifa ' famous for Garuda di Dadaku (Garuda in My Heart) and Sang Penari (The Dancer) ' is also successful in incorporating Indonesian pop culture elements and icons of the 80's and 90's, inducing a nostalgic atmosphere throughout the movie.
Ifa, however, is a little clumsy with the scenes in New York. An aim to create a somber and detached feeling for Iwan's life in New York weakens Ihsan's presence, making it seem like the actor is only a complement in the frames.
Despite its flaws, the film showcases cinematic and dramatic achievements, which alone are definitely very good reasons to watch it.
The movie will be released in theaters across the country on April 25.
9 Summers 10 Autumns
(112 minutes, Artura Insanindo, Angka Fortuna Sinema)
Director: Ifa Isfansyah
Cast: Ihsan Tarore, Alex Komang, Dewi Irawan, Shafil Hamdi Nawara, Agni Pratistha, Dira Sugandi, Hayria Faturrahman,
Screenwriters: Fajar Nugros, Ifa Isfansyah, Iwan Setyawan
Producers: Edwin Nazir and Arya Pradana
' Photos courtesy of Artura Insanindo