DIRECTOR: MAKBUL MUBARAK STARRING: KEVIN ARDILOVA, ARSWENDI NASUTION, YUSUF MAHARDIKA RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 54 MINUTES
A young man works as a housekeeper in an empty mansion. When its owner returns to start his mayoral election campaign, the young man bonds with him and defends him when his campaign is vandalized, setting off a chain of violence.
“Sorry is a remarkable word. It can turn rage into a blessing.”
Autobiography is the International Feature submission for Indonesia. Rakib, the youngest son of Amir, works as a housekeeper in a mansion owned by Purna, a retired general. Rakib’s family has been working for Purna’s family now for four generations. With his father in prison and his older brother working in Singapore, Rakib has now been tasked of taking care of Purna. He’s a chauffeur, a waiter, a cleaner, a guard, an entertainer for his boss. He’s an obedient, dog-like companion. And they have almost a father-son like relationship.
Purna is now running for Mayor of the region. Their days are spent putting up posters, giving speeches, and talking to the locals. When they’re not working, they play chess together, watch sports on TV, have shooting lessons and go bird hunting. They even visit Amir in prison. One day though, while driving back home, Purna notices that someone has vandalized one of his posters. He’s visibly upset and wants to find out who did it. As Rakib begins to investigate the crime, he slowly starts to realize that the locals are afraid of his boss.
The film subtly portrays Indonesia’s troubled and bloody past, as the country’s former leader led his country with corruption, repression, and militarized ruling. Likewise, Purna uses his power as a sergeant to provoke fear with the inhabitants. As part of his campaign, he promises to build an energy plant, which he tactfully declares will improve all of their lives by bringing electricity to the entire community, when in reality tons of citizens will lose their land. Most people are afraid to speak up, and those that do are silenced. When they see Purna, they shy away. And as the only real candidate up for mayor, they have no choice but to obey.
As Rakib begins to discover more and more about his boss, he’s forced to make a difficult decision. Should he back his allegiance for the man who’s given him a great life? Or should he slay the monster? His father thinks that he should enjoy the life that he has, and to be happy as long as he’s safe and healthy. But how can he falsely serve a man who’s vain, corrupt, violent and a near psychopath. Rakib knows that the only possible outcome to this situation will be in a violent, bloody discord.
The film doesn’t bear any autobiographical traits, but it does infer to the unresolved trauma that’s left after Suharto’s dictatorship ended.