Leaving aside the grittier scenes of earlier works, top Indonesian helmer Garin Nugroho crafts a simple ensemble piece geared to showing the humane side of a religion more often demonized than embraced. “Of Love and Eggs” uses a gentle, slightly bumbling imam (Didi Petet) as the paternal face of Islam, a benevolent figure doling out love with warmth and humor to assorted working-class types around a Jakarta market. Broadly drawn characters and Nugroho’s tested expertise with children mean pic’s best chances away from home rest with kids’ fests looking for contempo issues clearly told.
Shot entirely on a crowded set reminiscent of an Indonesian version of “East Enders,” pic begins shortly before the Lebaran holiday, when most city-dwellers return to their native villages. Those left in town include Asih (Putri Mulia), an angry young girl unwilling to accept that her mother may have abandoned the family; Bimo (Sakurtha H. Ginting), a mischievous boy selling eggs at the market; and Rindu (Raisa Pramesi), a deaf girl impatiently awaiting her brother’s return. Five different dialects and multiple ethnicities are used to turn the market into a national microcosm, united by their faith.