Postcards From The Zoo

Postcards From The Zoo

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Playing out like a magic (sur)realist fairtyle, Postcards From The Zoo tells the story of Lana (Ladya Cheryl) who, we are led to surmise, has lived in Jakarta's Ragunan Zoo since being left there as a young child. She has been, presumably, raised by some of the many itinerant workers who live within the walls of the zoo, helping out with the visitors in return for leave to remain.

Lana is, in these early scenes like the giraffe she adores, an elegant, mostly silent loner but who, we suspect, has hidden strength.

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As the movie progresses, the suggestion is that we are all animals in some sort of captivity, either self-made or otherwise, who have our own, sometimes impressive, abilities and basic needs. The conceit is underlined both by Lana's assertion that there are "three types of animal in the zoo. Visitors, animals and those that don't want to be watched", and by intertitles bearing definitions of phrases related to zoos, such as "endemic" and "translocation". To emphasise his point still further, Edwin initially keeps a documentary feel to proceedings, capturing the comings and goings of the animals and humans in the zoo in largely naturalistic terms.

After a slow build to the midway point, Lana's life and the film change tack. The arrival of a magician (Nicholas Saputra), whose air of mystery is only enahnced by his cowboy get-up, offers her a possibility of a change of environment. Little does she realise it will also lead to a spell in an altogether sort of different 'zoo', where she will be put on display. The dense plotting by Edwin and co-writers Titien Wattimena and Daud Sumolang during the latter half of the film sits uneasily with what has gone before, as the earlier carefully wrought emotional moments feel steamrollered by the sudden arrival of a narrative enslaught.

The picture Edwin paints recalls the postcards of the title, both for good and ill - his story plays out as a series of briefly glimpsed "wish you were/n't here" snapshots, which though often amusing and always visually interesting and vibrantly shot by cinematographer Sidi Saleh, don't linger long in the mind.

Reviewed on: 05 Jul 2012
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Magic realist fairytale of a girl who is raised in a zoo.
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Director: Edwin

Writer: Edwin, Daud Sumolang, Titien Wattimena

Starring: Nicholas Saputra, Ladya Cheryl, Dave Lumenta, Heidy Trisiana Triswan, Nazyra C. Noer, Adjie Nur Ahmad, Klarysa Aurelia

Year: 2012

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: Indonesia


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