When Barak Obama was six years old he and his mother relocated from Honolulu to Jakarta. This film purports to document his prepubescent school days and the precocious wisdom he imparted on the Indonesian people. But life among the Javanese was not easy for the young American sage. Despite adoring classmates, he struggled to fit in and almost as soon as he became acclimated to their backwards native way of life, his mother uprooted him again, dragging him back to the more academically challenging 50th state.
The young actor assigned to this potent role, Hasan Faruq Ali, has little screen charisma. Doe-eyed and sullen, he mopes through the part as if already burdened by his destined role as leader of the free world. His awe-struck classmates do nothing for the reputation of Indonesians. They act like simpletons barely able to comprehend the import of his occasional philosophic utterances.
And that's pretty much all that happens. The only entertaining respite is Teuku Zacky Azwar's portrayal of Turdi, Barak's flaming valet. He enlivens the movie with all too brief moments of entertaining camp. His character receives a premonition of the foreigner's divinity, but Barak is slow to accept Turdi's embarrassingly gay behavior.
What this all could mean to the average Indonesian moviegoer is a mystery. The version I viewed was from the DVD release which edits-out at least two scenes - one where Obama is kneeling on a rug praying to Allah and another where he is pledging allegiance to the Indonesian flag - cut so that Obama's current opponents in Washington couldn't use the visual images against him.
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