Review: ‘Gie’

Revolutionary as its subject may have been in the 1950s and '60s, biopic "Gie," about a real-life student leader during Indonesia's most turbulent era, is tediously conventional. Given the politically repressive atmosphere still prevalent in the country, pic was considered a brave accomplishment on July local release, though little of that courage will be apparent to international auds.

Revolutionary as its subject may have been in the 1950s and ’60s, biopic “Gie,” about a real-life student leader during Indonesia’s most turbulent era, is tediously conventional. Given the politically repressive atmosphere still prevalent in the country, pic was considered a brave accomplishment on July local release, though little of that courage will be apparent to international auds. Fests may consider this slow, linear effort, but only as counterpoint to more energetic or exotic fare.

Film follows the life of ethnic-Chinese student Soe Hok Gie (Nicholas Saputra, who recently impressed in “Joni’s Promise”), a political activist under the “guided democracy” of President Sukarno and his more durable successor, Soeharto. Writer-director Riri Riza contrasts Gie the activist with Gie the nature-loving idealist, but the most significant events in his life appear to have been writing provocative essays and attending political meetings. Neither of these activities makes dynamic viewing. The dramatic turmoil happening at that time in Indonesia, including massacres, occurs off-screen — perhaps due to lack of production coin — but helming and scripting are still inordinately flat. Tech credits are adequate.

Gie

Indonesia

Production

A Miles Film production, in association with Sinemart Pictures. (International sales: Miles Film, Jakarta, Indonesia.) Produced by Mira Lesmana. Directed, written by Riri Riza.

Crew

Camera (color), Yudi Datau; editor, Sastha Sunu; music, Thoersi Argeswara; art director, Iri Supit. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (A Window on Asian Cinema), Oct. 12, 2005. Running time: 147 MIN.

With

Nicholas Saputra, Lukman Sardi, Sita Nursanti.
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