Indonesian helmer Mouly Surya’s sophomore feature, “What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love,” is very different from her first, 2008′s tricky suspenser “Fiksi,” but shares with it an intriguing concept muddled by cryptic execution. This time she’s crafted what’s basically an ensemble romancer, albeit with the novelty of taking place among denizens of a school for the visually and aurally impaired. There’s a beguiling aesthetic playfulness here, but the narrative’s erratic, sometimes confused progress is finally more frustrating than rewarding. Beyond the fest circuit, export opportunities will be limited.Shy rich girl Diana (Karina Salim) and adventuresome Ritri (Ayushita Nugraha) are roommates at a boarding school for the blind, both aching for love. Diana pines for an oblivious fellow student, while Ritri is sneakily seduced by a deaf resident (Nicholas Saputra) who pretends to be the facility’s resident ghost. There’s a certain whimsical charm to these primary threads, the attractive setting and Yunus Pasolang’s sleek widescreen lensing. But Surya obscures matters in ways more careless than enigmatic, like sequences that, per press materials, take place in the characters’ imaginations, though nothing onscreen suggests as much.
A Cinesurya production in association with Amalina Pictures. (International sales: Cinesurya, Jakarta.) Produced by Rama Adi, Fauzan Zidni, Tia Hasibuan, Ninin Musa. Executive producers, A. Zawawi Soeleiman, Recky J, Eva Fadilah. Co-producer, John Badalu. Directed, written by Mouly Surya.
Camera (color, HD), Yunus Pasolang, editor, Kelvin Nugroho; music, Zeke Khasell; art director, Rita Yossy; costume designer, Meutia Pudjowarsito; sound, Abdul Malik; sound designer, Khikmawan Santosa. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema -- competing), Jan. 24, 2013. Running time: 104 MIN.
Karina Salim, Ayushita Nugraha, Nicholas Saputra, Anggun Priambodo, Lupita Jennifer, Tutie Kirana, Jajang C. Noer, Khiva Iskak, Alya Syrahrani.