Mantan Terindah (2014) — review

MT


Synopsis

This Indonesian film revolves around Nada, a woman born with an ability to see the future, who tries to ignore her powers after not being able to save her brother from an accident. After a serendipitous encounter with a musician named Genta, she learns to find herself, and in the process, finds love.


Plot

After a brief back story, the film sets off as the character Marsya calls Nada who’s in the office, informing her that she found a music store that sells Django Reinhardt records, an artist Nada is very fond of.

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Later that day, Nada went to the record store to check it out. While inside, she suddenly had a vision of a shelf falling on a guy, which made her run towards him, pulling him away. Nada then explained that the shelf is gonna fall. She then had a vision again, this time seeing the guy playing guitars. Nada remarked that if that thing hits him, he may not be able to play the guitar anymore. Shortly thereafter, the shelf did fell to the floor. Meanwhile, Nada, left in a hurry.

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That evening, Marsya told Nada that the person she helped wanted to see her to give thanks, which Nada politely declined. Marsya then explained that if a guy has good intentions, he will not stop until he gets what he wants.

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The next day, Nada while riding the train, saw several visions — a couple having an argument in the future, and a kid who’s gonna be lost moments later. As expected, after the train stopped by the station. the mother lost sight of her kid and began searching frantically. Meanwhile, Nada, although is a bit concerned about the kid, decides to simply walk away. At home, Nada had a conversation with her mother, citing some concerns about her powers.

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Nada then finally meets Genta, the guy she saved from the record shop.

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The next morning, Marsya along with a friend, visits Nada, bringing in several dresses with her for Nada to wear on her date with Genta. The two then proceeded to look for the best dress for Nada. Nada keeps rejecting every dress suggested for her, until a particular dress came up. Nada then had a vision of her date with Genta, of which Genta saying she’s beautiful.

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Later that night, Nada and Genta met and had a great time together. After several scenes, Nada and Genta is seen hanging out inside Nada’s house. She then saw a vision of Genta kissing her, in which she just let it happen. The two seems to be much closer after that, and is presumably in a relationship at this stage. One notable scene is while Nada and Genta spends time in the park, the latter playing guitars, his guitar case is lying on the grass wide open, which made a passerby toss coins on it. Nada and Genta then looked at each other and laughed.

Nada is seen giving Genta a gift — a wall clock, saying that this will give him more control of his time. The clock, which will became a major turning point later.

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In the next scene, Genta is playing chess with Nada’s dad Adi, while Nada is looking at them, smiling. Nada said to her mom that finally, her dad has someone to play chess with. Nada is then revealed to be having some grudges with her dad, and that she felt that she is to be blamed on the death of her brother. Nada’s mom said that Nada should just accept how her dad acts because it’s his way of coping with his son’s death. Nada then replied that her dad wasn’t the only one who lost someone that day, that she lost her brother too.

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The next scene shows Nada in Genta’s house, putting the clock on the wall. She then had a vision that Genta is going to end up with another woman. The woman, although the face is hardly seen, has a noticeable G and F-clef tattoo on her left shoulder.

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Nada’s dad, Adi having a conversation with his wife, after Nada played chess with him and tells him that she sees every move he’s going to make, telling her that their daughter’s powers can benefit people. Adi, having a terminal illness, thinks Nada can help him live longer.

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After her last vision, Nada became more clingy and increasingly paranoid, even taking a quick look at a woman’s shoulders to see if she has some sort of tattoo like the one she saw on her vision.

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Nada and Genta, along with a crowd, is watching Tania, an internationally-known singer as she performs inside the record shop.

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Shortly after, Nada then saw something she doesn’t expect to see — a G and F-clef tattoo on Tania’s back. Nada instantly became so concerned that he held Genta’s arms tightly.

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Genta talking with Nada’s parents asking their daughter’s hand for marriage. Nada’s parents replied that they would give their answer after Nada’s upcoming 25th birthday.

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After a very simple birthday celebration, Nada is shown sleeping on her bed, with her dad sitting beside her. Her dad gently caresses her daughter’s face, which made Nada slowly opens her eyes and sees her dad smiling. Afterwards, Nada opens her eyes, then realizes what she felt and saw earlier was probably just a dream.

She then stood up and went in front of the mirror to fix her hair until she suddenly had a vision of students running down a lecture hall. Worried knowing his dad is going afar for a lecture, Nada immediately went to the record shop, probably to seek help from Marsya and Genta. After Nada arrived at the record shop, she saw Genta and Tania, along with Marsya, and other people having a business meeting. Nada, infuriated to see Tania, leaves the shop. Genta then ran off to talk to Nada and they had an argument in the middle of the rain. Meanwhile, Marsya, answers a phone call, of which her reaction pertains something terrible had happened. Marsya then went outside to give Nada the phone. Shortly after, Nada fainted after hearing the bad news — her father is gone.

Nada is grief-stricken, but is slowly learning to accept the fact as time passes by. After some time, Nada finally pulled herself together, and is again seen with Genta on a date, and soon afterwards, ultimately shows the two kissing and eventually making love.

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The next morning, Genta awakens alone, and sees a farewell letter made by Nada. Genta immediately went to Nada’s house only to find out that there seem to be no one inside, which made him went to Marsya. Marsya, trying to convince Genta that even she doesn’t know where Nada is, calls Nada’s phone, which is unreachable. Genta then went home, angry and troubled, even throwing his guitar to the floor.

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Genta then went back to Nada’s house presumably several times, for days and nights, until Nada’s mom finally talks to him. Genta tells her how much he loves Nada and insists her to tell him where she is. Nada’s mom replied that she won’t tell where she is, because it is her daughter’s request. Genta, out of clues, had no choice but to let go.

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A few years later, Genta is now a famous musician. He is seen on magazine pages along with Tania, the two scheduled to marry soon.

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Marsya and Nada is then shown walking while having some chat. Marsya then asks Nada if she regrets what happened before. Nada then replied (which references their first conversation over the phone) “If it’s not meant to be, then it’s not meant to be”.

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Meanwhile, Genta answers a phone call from an unknown caller. Nada then revealed that it is her, and wanted them to meet. At first, it looks like they’re having a great conversation, catching up on each other after all those years. Nada then proceeds on asking Genta about his wedding preparations, which Genta replied, “Good, all good”. Nada then said that she likes the girl for him. Genta replied that he still thinks of Nada everyday ever since. He asks her the reason why she left. Nada then explained that she saw him in a vision, ending up with another woman. This revelation of her supernatural powers goes even as far as demonstrating it by correctly predicting that the waiter will give the wrong drink to the wrong customer, and how the waiter will spill the drink on another customer. Genta then tells Nada that if she would simply say that she wanted to be with him again, just say it and he will give up everything he has now, just to be with her. Nada rejects Genta’s offer and left.

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Nada is then seen driving a car while listening to radio, which coincidentally plays Genta’s song entitled “Mantan Terindah”, which seems to be a reference on Nada telling him back then that he should try to write songs about heartbreaks or sadness. Raisa Andriana, the singer of the title track, is then shown singing on a concert stage. The concert scene fades, and shows Nada crying. Nada is then seen on the park bench where she and Genta used to spend time together.

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The last scene shows Nada riding the train. A guy then entered and sat just in front of her. Nada glanced and smiled after she saw that he is wearing a Django Reinhardt shirt. The guy noticed this then looks at Nada with a smile.

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Review

I saw this movie once with English subtitles in HBO’s RED, a channel that shows Asian movies from all over Asia. After watching the movie, I immediately thought of writing a review, since this was a very interesting concept, the blending the typical romance and drama story line and mixing it with some supernatural and philosophical elements. I don’t know if this was produced by a major film studio or as an indie film, but nonetheless, it’s rare to see a movie being marketed as a romantic drama film to portray such “deepness” in its plot.

I saw the movie again the second time on YouTube for the purpose of this review but unfortunately, it didn’t come with subs so I had to rely on what I remember the characters were talking about. So to our Indonesian neighbors (I live in the Philippines), would you please upload one with subs? That would be awesome!

At first, I thought, “Is this a horror movie?” Because the trailer I saw shows Nada looking at the clock ticking very fast. I continued on watching the movie expecting jump scares, and yet I was surprised. It is a very heartwarming movie, all in all. This is far from the typical cheesy Asian movies you can find. Sure, it was a romantic drama film to begin with, but it has a question that begs to be asked: If you have an ability to know the future, would you do something about it, or would you just let it happen?


Characters

Nada is a clairvoyant, someone who has an ability to gain information about a person, object, or to foresee the future, but tried to suppress her powers after the death of her brother. Nada works in an office she doesn’t seem to love, because she dreams of being an author / illustrator of pop-up story books for children.

Genta, is a musician, and a carefree character. He doesn’t seem to be stressed, and has a philosophy about how he doesn’t want to be dictated by time. He is willing to do anything he can for Nada, even willing to give up everything including his fame. Some might say that Genta is being overly unfair to his fiancée Tania, but I wouldn’t blame him.

Marsya is Nada’s best friend. Although she looks a bit liberated compared to her friend’s conservative character, she is always there for Nada nonetheless.


Conclusion

I think the central meaning of the story is not entirely about fate or destiny. Spiritually speaking, yes, God does have a plan for the each of us, but aside from that, he also gave us free-will that gives us the power to decide for ourselves. I guess Nada, in the bottom of her heart, still wants to be with Genta, but instead of doing that and ruin Genta’s relationship with Tania, she is willing to accept the consequences of her actions, no matter how painful it is or how regrettable it may be. The last train scene where Nada saw a guy wearing a Django Reinhardt shirt and are both seen smiling to each other, I don’t want to speculate that they will be in a relationship in the near future. I think that scene could mean that Nada after crying her heart out in the car, finally learns to lets go of her feelings and is now ready to start living again like how she lived even before Genta came to her life; It doesn’t necessarily mean she’s ready to start a new relationship, unless I missed something on Nada’s closing remarks. In my opinion, of course I would love for Nada and Genta to be together again. The “My Most Beautiful Ex” title will still be applicable, since we can argue that Nada isn’t Genta’s girlfriend anymore, hence the “ex”, because she is his wife now. I guess that would give the movie a better conclusion, but that doesn’t sit well according to the lyrics of the song. Well anyway, I wouldn’t call it a happy ending, but rather a bittersweet one. I guess that would be better than nothing.


Karina Salim
as Nada
Edward Akbar as Genta
Salvita Decorte as Marsya
Angela Nazar as Tania

Directed by Farishad Latjuba

Produced by Keana Productions © 2014


(If you have any corrections, please feel free to leave comments. I would love to have someone to discuss this movie with, preferably someone who understands Indonesian.)


PS: Congratulations to Karina Salim on her wedding!

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