Review: ‘The Dreamer’

A crowd-pleaser that scores despite its didactic elements and slightly wearying two-hour length.

An enjoyable sequel to his domestically successful “Rainbow Troops,” Indonesian director Riri Riza’s “The Dreamer” (based, like “Rainbow,” on a novel by Andrea Hirata) is a coming-of-age movie whose characters strive to study at the Sorbonne rather than grab cash or get laid. Riza clearly loves his trio of scrappy, upwardly mobile Malay kids, resulting in a crowd-pleaser that scores despite its didactic elements and slightly wearying two-hour length. Spanning from Gantong circa 1980 to 2000-era Brussels, pic is well suited to inspire auds at fests far and wide.

The pic opens with Ikal (Lukman Sardi), a Bogor mail sorter, regretting his childhood association with the cousin who “left me to rot here for three years.” Flashbacks reveal that cousin as Arai (Rendy Ahmad), an orphan who was taken in by Ikal’s dad (Mathias Muchus), who works at a tin-washing company on the island of Belitung. Together with Jimbron (Azwir Fitrianto), a stuttering, horse-obsessed lad, young Arai and Ikal (Vikri Septiawan) are encouraged by a spirited schoolteacher (Nugie) to follow their dreams to Paris. Building toward Ikal’s acceptance of his cousin’s flaws, Riza’s cheesy movie proves hard to resist.

The Dreamer

Indonesia

Production

A Miles Films, Mizan Prods. presentation. Produced by Mira Lesmana. Executive producers, Haidar Bagir, Bakhtiar Rakhman, Ignatius Andy, Rayi Aurora. Co-producers, Putut Widjanarko, Toto Prasetyanto, Gangsar Sukrisno. Co-executive producers, Diyah Woelandari Taufik, Olga Lidya. Directed by Riri Riza. Screenplay, Salman Aristo, Mira Lesmana, Riza, from the novel by Andrea Hirata.

Crew

Camera (color), Gunnar Nimpuno; editor, W. Ichwandiardono; music, Aksan Sjuman, Titti Sjuman; art director, Eros Eflin; costume designer, Chitra Subiyakto. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Dragons & Tigers), Oct. 7, 2010. Running time: 122 MIN.

With

Vikri Septiawan, Rendy Ahmad, Maudy Ayunda, Azwir Fitrianto, Mathias Muchus, Lukman Sardi, Nugie.

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