The word khalifah means leader. This word is not used as a person's name in devout Islamic regions. Here in this movie, Khalifah is the name of a very attractive unmarried 20-year-old girl in Jakarta Indonesia. After World War Two, Indonesia has been a casual Islamic nation under the rule of powerful dictatorships. With the fall of its last dictator, the door was opened to freer elections, as well as a push in some segments of Indonesia towards more fanatical religion.
So here we watch as our beautiful Khalifah takes a journey from the milder Islam of Indonesia, to a more strict devout strain that a small portion of Indonesians follow.
Her story has some poetic elements... we see that Khalifah is a classic model-like beauty, so very easy on the eye, but her move towards stricter Islam makes her start to cover up her nice attractive face.
Beautiful Khalifah works in a beauty parlor, of all places. A beauty parlor is founded on human motivations that are in direct opposite of strict religious modesty.
Khalifah's move away from mild mainstream Indonesian Islam comes about because her mother was sick and died, and her father is in debt, and with not enough family income, she agrees to marry a high income successful business man who will support her entire family. Khalifah is told little more than he is very good with Islamic text.
There is a marriage. The husband is kind to Khalifah. The husband gives some money (not a great amount) to support Khalifah's family. The husband asks her to dress in full coverings to hide all of her beauty, and she does.
Instead of exploring the poetry of this set-up, the movie KHALIFAH explores the social aspects of putting Khalifah out into the world dressed as a bad "terrorist" looking person. Last month she was oogled by all, now this month she is hated by all... but the Khalifah inside has not changed.
There problems with the plot. Khalifah's father, although poor, is a respected mosque leader and is nice to her and seemingly close to her, but Khalifah never goes to him for help about her husband's double life. Khalifah's father was the one responsible for finding the man who he wanted to be her husband, so why not show him each piece of evidence of the double life?
The biggest problem with this film is the lack of phones. Flor more than a decade now, Indonesia is a land filled with poor people who barely have electricity, but still every family member over six-years-old has their own cell phone. But in the movie KHALIFAH, the successful high income business man does not have an assistant with a smart phone, does not have an assistant with a regular cell phone, and does not even have an office at all to take messages.
Worse, the businessman himself does not have a smart phone, he does not have a regular cell phone, and he does not even have a simple house phone to take messages.
The movie KHALIFAH takes place in a strange alternative phone-free universe!
Last at the end, with the same small income, how and why would Khalifah and her father try to operate two separate households? Little income with 2 houses for which to pay rent puts them in a worse place than at the start of the film when they had the same little income and only one house to pay rent on.
As a dry straight drama, KHALIFAH needs a more realistic story.
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