The lives of several upperclass, thirty-something Jakartans are boldly revealed for the first time in Indonesian cinema, following the career and social life of three life-long friends who seem to have conquered the metropolitan. Unfortunately, the truth is not exactly as pretty as the impression. Written by
A Cute and Witty Story is Buried by the Chic Trappings
ARISAN (The Gathering) is a fine little story about the ins and outs of Jakarta's wealthy class - sort of an Indonesian Beverly Hills 90210/Melrose Place sitcom. The characters include frustrated wives, jealous wives, career women, cheating husbands, man-hunter girls, and two gay men - one closeted and one open. The film explores the social dictates of society and the jumbled events that occur when family or friends try to match make.
The cast is young and attractive and handles the material well. The problem with the film is the emphasis on clothes, fancy homes, cars, and all the trappings of the wealthy class. An 'arisan' is a gathering where friends come together, pitch in $100. each and pass the hostessing around to various locales where their main conversation is fairly shallow gossiping. But this film, though drowning in the over-the-top trappings, has many sensitive issues well discussed and played. For a film from Indonesia it is a terrific change from the usual horror flicks that originate from their studios and as such bodes well for a new movie industry that obviously has the ability to become important. It is funny, tender, very colorful and entertaining: some judicious editing could have pared this overly long movie into a fine little film. In Indonesian and English with subtitles. Grady Harp
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