If I’m honest, I am one of many young people who are always pessimistic about Indonesian films. For example, I personally didn’t have high expectations when I watched the first Love for Sale movie. At that time I even watched in an indie cinema studio because I was not interested in watching it in the cinema, thinking this film was just another romcom drama that sold love stories.

Indonesian dramas are clichés. Generic. Most of them are rich in FTV, the romance is cringe , the plot is easy to guess, the artist is just like that, there is no essence of the story that can be taken apart from pseudo love stories and hyperbole. I continued to carry this assumption with me and I believed it wholeheartedly, until I finally realized how wrong I was when I saw the story of Richard and Arini.

Seconds after watching, Love for Sale immediately became one of the best Indonesian drama films for me. The story is beautiful, the emotions are really felt, the character designs are good, the plot is simple but beautiful. All elements of the story synergize with each other, making a single story of rare quality. I got a new feeling, an emotion that I had never felt before and at the same time made me smile, I immediately applauded after the credit roll rolled.

And now, I don’t want to misstep.
I want to experience that sensation of taste and emotion again by being one of the very first to watch the sequel to Love for Sale 2.

So after watching this sequel, do I feel the same way again? Yes, 100% yes. And not only that, I also got far more than what I expected from the start.

Introducing the Sikumbang Family
From a glimpse of the Love for Sale 2 trailer , this film clearly presents a different theme from the first film, exactly what Andibachtiar Yusuf said in a question and answer session in Bandung. If the first film was romance-themed, this time the director brought family as the main theme. To be precise, the Sikumbang family, a Minang-blooded family living in the Jakarta area. This family has 4 members, namely Mamah Rosmaida, Indra Tauhid Sikumbang alias Ican, Anandoyo Tauhid Sikumbang alias Ndoy, and Yunus Tauhid Sikumbang alias Buncun. Each character has a story, which is interrelated and continuous with each other.

When viewed from the composition of the characters, Love for Sale 2 clearly has a number of characters who play more roles when compared to the first film. I think this makes sense, because indeed to create a story about a family requires a lot of variables, a lot of traits, and it takes a lot of variety of characters that play a role in it. This kind of ensemble cast is indeed often used to expand and deepen the story, as well as to make the emotions shown feel real and enter the hearts of the audience.

And director Andibacthiar Yusuf managed to carry this family theme beautifully, nicely and beautifully. He managed to show the story of one family naturally and full of conflict, without feeling cringy at all and can be felt directly by the audience. From what I’ve caught after watching this film twice, he does three things:

Realistic settings and characters
Dynamic narrative
Sound ambience harmonious
We can see the character of Mamah Ros; a mother who is religious and has a strong will and always manages her child’s future, always makes scathing comments, must always be obeyed and always wants her child to get married. Hey, who has a mother like this?

There are also Sikumbang brothers; Ican, Ndoy, and Buncun each have different motives, habits, conflicts and principles. Ndoy as the first child is an old-fashioned and slang like his father, Ican as the second child has a different way of thinking from his brother and parents, and Buncun as the last child is born rebellious and always refuses to obey anyone who tells him to. We can consider this character composition as the standard composition of a family, we all must have heard of families with diverse characteristics like this. Or maybe our own family is like this?

Variations of characters are deliberately made like this. The more the characters are made to relate to real life, the more emotion is given to the audience. Especially if the narrative is built with language that we often use on a daily basis, with a natural demeanor without feeling stiff.

Andibacthiar Yusuf knows very well that narrative is the backbone of a family story, that’s why he also designed it in great detail to make it look and sound more realistic. Narration that is done by all characters is not done back-to-back where the character will speak after the other characters have finished speaking. The narratives in this film often overlap, complement each other , contradict each other and don’t want to lose, exactly as described in this video. That way, realistic chemistry between families is created and produces a conflict that sounds, looks, and feels so real.

Rituals and customs of the Indonesian people are also constantly shown in this film so that the realistic impression is always attached and never lost. We can see how Mamah Ros is doing recitations with mothers, we can see how the Sikumbang family interacts with their neighbors without a barrier, chatting in the middle of the road in the complex as the afternoon approaches, drinking coffee together, playing cards, going to the market, and chatting together without being seen. stiff and spontaneous. Everything is made simply, but looks so detailed and feels so warm. Throughout the film, we also hear a variety of ambience sounds that we often hear when we are at home, from the sound of salespeople, the sound of motorbikes passing by, the sound of small children playing on the street in front of the house, to the sound of the call to prayer from the nearest mosque.

The result is clear. The audience will be completely convinced and have a strong emotional connection with the characters in this film. The message and the family theme that was carried later could be conveyed optimally, it felt so emotional that not a few could not hold back tears.

I, was one of those people who couldn’t hold back his tears.

Staging & Seamless Shot
One thing that impressed me the most about Love for Sale 2 was how the director Andibachtiar Yusuf made beautiful shots that were much bolder than the previous film. We can even see this ‘bravery’ in the first minute of the film, how he made the opening scene using a seamless transition between Richard and Arini which immediately made me smile widely. I never thought that I would find something new as soon as the new film started.

Then my admiration grew even more when the overture scene began, namely a scene set in a wedding invitation with thick Minang customs. The director uses a long-take or Spielberg Oner technique , combined with camera movement and dynamic characters so that the audience doesn’t feel bored, and doesn’t realize that the camera hasn’t stopped recording since the beginning. What a satisfying start.

This kind of seamless transition and long-take technique then continues to be used constantly on film, of course with different shots and compositions to prevent the audience from getting bored and giving different messages. The death scene of Ican’s neighbor, for example, was made using a long-take technique combined with seamless transitions between characters, so that we can clearly see people’s panic and feel real sad emotions in the audience.

And to take advantage of the large cast , Andibacthiar Yusuf did not waste the opportunity to do many ensemble staging scenes like the famous Korean director, Bong Joon-Ho. Many shots are made to appear separated between foreground and background, inserting many characters at once and making them act together in one frame. In fact, this method is very effective in making the scene more realistic, allowing the audience to clearly see every emotion of the characters that play a role. I really didn’t think I’d see this technique in Love for Sale 2, let alone actually used it so beautifully by the director.

To support a realistic narrative and setting, it is not uncommon for Andibachtiar Yusuf to use ambiance elements such as electric poles, cables, or mosque toa as transition shots. Not only that, almost all of the shots also use image compositions that include realistic elements, such as children playing soccer in the alley, a sales cart that passes in front of the house, and a recitation full of mothers. I always feel that every shot in this film is carefully designed, always trying to show the realistic side of the story so that it manages to provide the right emotions for the audience.

So basically, I found a lot of new ‘flavors’ and viewing experiences in Love for Sale 2 when compared to the previous films. Andibacthiar Yusuf seemed more daring and didn’t hesitate to experiment with the shots he took, which I think he did perfectly.

In fact, yes, there are several shots that made me stunned, amazed, and couldn’t stop smiling. The first was when the camera took a close-up shot of Arini , which only showed part of her ears, hair and eyes . The shot really gave me goosebumps, it really showed Arini’s beauty and grace even though almost half of her face was not in the frame. So cool, I swear!

Another shot that amazed me was when Ican kissed Arini in the living room, where the shot was taken in a long-take which then panned to the right, towards the aquarium which showed Arini and Ican kissing from afar. I think this shot is really beautiful, apart from being able to use the aquarium as a perfect support for the shot , this shot also hides some of the faces of Arini and Ican, making the scene implicit which obviously makes the audience more excited and more curious. Kudos to Andibachtiar Yusuf for this really cool shot !

And the mystery continues
Talking about Love for Sale means talking about a mystery, which may be one of the main reasons why the Love for Sale movie is so awaited by fans. Unlike Indonesian films which always ‘feed’ the audience with literal scenes, Andibachtiar Yusuf designed the film Love for Sale with many implicit clues, easter eggs , and hidden references that only those who really pay attention can know. And cool, the tradition of keeping this mystery is still being maintained beautifully, which is now even directly related to the plot of the story.

For example, the audience will be confused about Mamah Ros’ relationship with Maya. What causes them not to get along? Why does Mamah Ros hate Maya so much, even though Maya has behaved very well and is very polite? This question is never explicitly answered until the film ends, but we all know what their relationship is through the narrative that develops throughout the film. We can also see a similar storytelling technique from Mamah Ros’ relationship with Ndoy, who is Sikumbang’s favorite child, how old is Maya’s pregnancy, and how long Ican has hired Arini.

There are no scenes that explain the answers to these questions, everything can only be understood and understood if we are patient, detailed and diligent in listening to every narrative that exists.

This is the magical side of the film Love for Sale.

This is why I am so impressed with the storytelling technique used in the first and second Love for Sale films. How the audience is forced to find the answer on their own, guessing what really happened, making an abstract conclusion and different interpretations, creates further deeper discussions for the audience. Try, how many Indonesian films can make the audience curious like this?

While chatting briefly with Andibachtiar Yusuf, I was asked what do Arini Love for Sale 1 and Love for Sale 2 have in common? Honestly, I can’t answer, because what I see now is that Arini is different from Arini before, being polar opposites to each other even though they are still a ‘chameleon’ to both clients.

The first Arini is a woman who takes the initiative, dares to come forward to make decisions to balance Richard who is full of doubts. The second Arini is a versatile woman who is shy, always ready to be a vent for Mamah Ros and a savior ‘angel’ for the Sikumbang family who is always full of conflict. Their poses and characteristics are also 180 degrees different, where in Love for Sale 1, Love for Sale’s body movements are more flexible and dynamic, while in Love for Sale 2, their body movements are always limited, always seem shy and always clench their fists.

According to the director himself, Arini in Love for Sale 2 was designed that way. Like an angel, like Jonathan Smith’s character in the Highway To Heaven film series . When Arini comes in a situation, she will solve all the problems. It is proven by how he can improve the relationship between Maya and Mamah Ros, helping Ican’s matchmaking problems while making everyone happier even for a moment. A noble task, but in fact must be paid with a heavy price.

Because it’s different from the first Love for Sale, Love for Sale 2 shows us a side that we haven’t seen before; that Arini is also a human, who can feel emotions and get hurt if she leaves the people she cares about. We can see how Arini bonded with Mamah Ros personally, we can see Arini feels heavy when she has to leave the Sikumbang family’s house, and we can also feel Arini getting hurt when she sees the fight between Endah and Buncun — which I suspect has something to do with the past. experienced by Arini.

Arini’s origin is indeed one of the things most loyal Love for Sale fans have been waiting for, which is also one of my worries in this Love for Sale 2 movie. Afraid, Andibachtiar Yusuf immediately opened up the origins and all the secrets belonging to Arini frontally which would clearly eliminate the magical side of the Love for Sale series. But fortunately the plot of the story is not carried that way. I am relieved that Arini’s character is only ‘peeled’ a little through photos of her father and mother, so that the magical and mysterious side of Arini’s character remains and does not disappear.

By Kania