Selamat Pagi, Malam

Selamat Pagi, Malam - Indonesian Movie Review

Alternative title: In the Absence of the Sun

 Three different stories of three different women told within the satirical portrait of the Indonesian metropolitan city, Jakarta.

Why It’s Worth Watching

Selamat Pagi, Malam captures a naked truth of the capital city Jakarta that becomes the center of all hopes. It mocks the ironic brutality of the city through the amusing and heartwarming stories from its contrasting characters.

An Insinuation That Greets the Ugliness of the Capital

As the inhabitant who lives on the skirt of the capital Jakarta and earns money in that big city, I find it amusing, yet feel profound realization when watching Selamat Pagi, Malam (alternative title: In Abundance of the Sun). Many movies take the grand benefits of the metropolitan’s beautiful sceneries, its newest issue, and all the things offered on its surface, while at the same time neglect the most interesting part: its people.

Selamat Pagi, Malam opens its story with a pansy radio announcer who throws a question that followed with facts:

“What keeps you living in Jakarta? Traffic is getting worse, widespread flooding, getting run over by a motorcycle, getting robbed inside a taxi, getting raped inside a busway. That’s the question.”

Everyone who lives or works in Jakarta at least can relate to one or two things mentioned above. From the first point here, we are reminded and introduced to the focal point that brings us to the three women that have totally different background and perception of the urban life of the most crowded city in the country.

The first woman is Gia (Adinia Wirasti). She just back after living for many years in New York and finds that her home has changed a lot. Everyone gets busy with their gadgets while they are with their friends. It’s kinda amusing to see Gia’s surprised and puzzled expression every time she’s been introduced to such a phenomenon. Even as an ex-New Yorkers, Gia who is being confronted with the statement “Blackberry is a must-have gadget in Jakarta” and when she asks in confusion, “what is Path again?” is ridiculously funny I couldn’t help but laugh in agreement. It truly is, Blackberry was a primal need of the middle-upper class (and anybody who pretends to be it) and even after its downfall, the citizens of Jakarta (and other people wanting to take a part in it) are strongly determined by a highly functioned smartphone and the number of social media. The cultural shift in her child’s neighborhood cannot be denied, even by her friend and ex-lover Naomi (Marissa Anita). Naomi who left New York years ago has become a part of Jakarta as most people do, and it costs her much, more than she or Gina can anticipate. Naomi’s love for art and walking cannot be met in the place that almost provides none of them, and these changes are just half of what Naomi has to deal with.

The second woman is Ci Surya, played by Dayu Wijanto. Like Wirasti and Anita, Wijanto has owned numerous records in movie acting. But, unlike her fellow casts who got major roles in previous movies, Wijanto only acted as minor characters in brief appearances. Despite that, her powerful acting within those minor characters cannot prevent me from not forgetting the ‘familiar’ face. It took me a quarter of the movie to realize that I have seen her in One Day We’ll Talk About Today as a crying nurse and Love for Sale as Arini’s mother. Fortunately, this time, Wijanto takes the lead role as a newly widowed middle-aged woman who suffers after knowing her husband has been cheating with a woman named Sofia. Wijanto’s Ci Surya becomes another depiction of Jakarta’s resident: she is and isn’t a part of it. She comes from a rich family but has never tasted the outer, unfiltered layer of the city. Her short adventure of seeking her husband’s affair begins and ends in a seedy hotel that opens her eyes to the ugly truth she’s been living with for many years. Ci Surya’s grim expression when visiting the hotel is enough to say her sudden realization although she does not talk much.

The third woman is Indri (Ina Panggabean). She is an outsider, a lower-class woman who tries to fit in a higher status. She won’t mind doing bad things just to arrive at that point. She connects herself with a random man on the internet that assures her of that social position, only to discover the opposite fact that devastates her right away. The epic story of Indri closed with the encounter with a man she is familiar with, a native inhabitant that is belittled by the city that has raised him. Her meeting with him gives the reassurance that she sought earlier in a different place.

The director Lucky Kuswandi pictures the face of Jakarta and its people in a humorous, satirical way possible that leaves me nodding and giggling. There are many warm feelings that can still wrap the ugliness of the city, through the shots of different activities from various social classes and the conversations that bring up many issues that adhere to the city. You would not expect someone can charge you for taking a pee in a small toilet he provides; you would not expect someone would place a qibla and a gospel in the same drawer inside a shady room; you would not expect every criminal activity lurking even in the most crowded placed; but, all that things may happen and anyone that has experienced the big city can relate to those feeling of familiarity. Thus, Selamat Pagi, Malam poignantly serves the intimacy for anyone forged by its cruelty, disguising as the night filled with lamps striking their light to the starless sky and promises for a better future.


But I feel like, I’ve been sucked into this black hole for the past seven years, only to find out I never left.

A great satirical drama about the lives inside the capital city Jakarta through the perspective of three distinct women and the scenery of its night life.

Where to watch:

Director: Lucky Kuswandi

Genre: Drama

Scriptwriter: Lucky Kuswandi, Ucu Agustin

Runtime: 1 hour and 34 minutes

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