Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Istanbul, Aku Datang! [2012]

Director: Bernard Chauly
Writer: Rafidah Abdullah
Starring: Lisa Surihani, Beto Kusyairy, Tomok
Genre: Romantic comedy
Rating: General
Comment: "A Romantic comedy with heart. Oh, you'd be surprised how rare that is..."

Naive and hopelessly romantic Dian (Lisa Surihani) travels all the way to Istanbul, where her doctor-to-be boyfriend Azad (Tomok) is studying, with a plan; She's going to charm her way into getting him to propose by the end of her stay. One thing she didn't take into account is how Azad wouldn't have her stay under the same roof as him and his two guy friends. A scam later and she finds herself sharing an apartment with another Malaysian guy named Harris (Beto Kusyairy). From there, Dian tries to juggle between proceeding with her initial plan, while keeping Azad in the dark about her new housemate.

What to Expect
1. Charm, and simplicity
2. Good chemistry between actors
3. Casting was just perfect
4. A sitcom feel to it

What NOT to Expect
1. Cuti-cuti Istanbul
2. Much focus on the fish-out-of-water element
One of the best Malaysian movies you'll see this year.
A Romantic comedy with heart. Oh, you'd be surprised how rare that is. Granted, I'm not that big a fan of Rom-coms, so there's always that chance I missed plenty of the newer ones. But the ones that I have seen are so bland, and they always follow the same formula; it's basically two people who are so incompatible with one another, they spend 80% of the movie hurling insults at each other, before realising that they can't live without each other, for no other reason than they're both physically attractive.

Local movies are not the only offenders here, I'm talking about Rom-com as a whole.

So what about Istanbul, Aku Datang!, then? Well, it's not completely devoid of the genre tropes, and not exactly a laugh-out-loud comedy either. But it all worked because you won't get the impression that the production had a meeting where they listed down all the Rom-com cliches, and sought to cover them all one-by-one. Therefore whatever tropes you may find, I'd say they are coincidental (and perhaps inevitable).

Good luck finding them, though. There is this charm to the movie that will draw you in almost straightaway. "Almost", because this is coming from someone who's rather indifferent about Lisa Surihani. But, as indifferent as I can be about her, I'm not impervious to the charm of female characters Redfilms like to write; bubbly and chirpy. Which is something you'd already expect if you've seen their previous releases such as Gol & Gincu [2005] and Pisau Cukur [2009].

See what I mean when I said it's not completely devoid of the genre tropes? But, at least she doesn't fall down all the time, for giggles. Boy, I do hope there's a special place in hell for Katherine Heigl's career.

Alright, enough about tropes. Perhaps there's another concern I could address here, and that would be the setting. Like, why Istanbul, right? Couldn't it have taken place here in Malaysia? Is it like a gimmick? The answer is no, to both questions. I can't say I know why it has to be Istanbul, specifically. But it is no gimmick that it has to take place somewhere outside our country. Something Malaysians would understand once you think about it.

Not only it is important for the plot to move forward, but also because this is where the situational comedy comes in. You'll see what I mean. So worry not about seeing a Cuti-cuti Istanbul advertisement thinly-veiled as a movie, with extensive montages showcasing landmarks, and lead characters happily gallivanting about like they just had the world's best LSD.

If anything, I liked the characters, and how they nailed it with the casting. Even Tomok, whom I still can't forgive for the diarrhoea-inducing Sejarah Mungkin Berulang, but I'm thinking that's precisely why his role worked for reasons I shall not elaborate upon, lest I give away integral details to the plot. It was also the second time I've seen Lisa Surihani act, and she's not bad at all, actually. And I guess you could say that I'm a fan now. Then there's Beto Kusyairy, whom I've liked since I learned that he was the man inside that Along costume.

I have little else to say about Istanbul, Aku Datang! Simply put, the movie does justice to the term Romantic-comedy. But if you still feel compelled to sit straight throughout the whole movie and actually scour for reasons why you can't enjoy this movie, then you must be one hopelessly grouchy person.


Joni Dep said...

Belum tengok citer Isketambola ni.

Tapi ni ada review filem Skyfall:

Sila komen. Thanks!

The Malaysian Diarist said...

Wow Mamu that's a pretty positive review. Then again I did like gol and gincu and pisau cukur for its rom-com-ness.

I might actually go for this one. Not a huge fan of Lisa Suriani, she's as cute as a button but I am not quite sold on her acting you know?

Still I might go to this one, the first and ONLY local movie I'd probably spend money on this year :) thanks for the review.

Mamü Vies said...

The Malaysian Diarist:
Glad I could help! But yeah, if you like Gol & Gincu and Pisau Cukur, sounds like this too is right up your alley.

I hope you'll have a good time too, like I did :D

Zulfahmi said...

U influenced me to watch this movie...

Nasib baik best

The Malaysian Diarist said...

Mamu, I had a great time watching this today. So far red films and Bernard Chauly seem to hit the mark with rom com movies like this one and YES the pacing was great, no unnecessary draggy scenes. It's predictable as anything, I mean we could predict the outcome of it from the get go but the chemistry between the actors and the humor is actually entertaining and even charming. I am glad I watched this on the big screen!

Mamü Vies said...

The Malaysian Diarist:
Mighty glad to hear that! :D

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

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