(Indonesia, 2009, d. Andibachtiar Yusuf)
The story of Romeo and Juliet has been told and re-told. Here it provides a basis for an Indonesian story about football fanaticism and hooliganism. Which means, of course, that the fans of Jakarta and the rival fans of Bandung become the equivalents of the Capulets and the Montagues. And the enmity is literally deadly. In this situation, a Jak is smtten by a Viking girl (the name for the Bandung fans), the latterday Romeo and Juliet.
For a western audience, this is a surprisingly accessible story (as well as for many Asian audiences, though the film has been banned from screening in neighbouring Malaysia). This is the world of young adults all around the world, students and workers, in their T shirts and jeans, with popular music, with a much less traditional approach to moral behaviour, communicating in their slang and being hostile in local swearing. It seems that secularisation is not just a phenomenon of older Christian countries but with so many of the Muslim countries in Asia or in Africa.
There is quite an amount of hooliganism and brawls in the film, staged quite realistically and, for the audience, rather overwhelmingly.
As with West Side Story and Baz Luhrman's Romeo+Juliet, the interest is in looking at and appreciating whether the contemporary equivalents of Shakespeare's plays work or not, or how well. One thing is that this picture of Djarkarta youth shows them behaving and sounding like tough youth anywhere, especially with their language and preoccupation with sex. That is the world of Romeo, who is a leading hooligan. Juliet's world is that of college and study, though she has mechanic brothers who can be as belligerent and violent as the hooligan's in Romeo's world.
And, as we know, it ends badly and tragically, just as Romeo is coming to his senses and could be the better for it.
Indonesian films are not seen widely. Audiences might be surprised at the 'universal' style of young Indonesian film-makers.