Reviewed by Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
Jakarta, Indonesia has, by Wikipedia’s reckoning, 9,607,787 people, making it one of the world’s largest cities. Joko Anwar’s subtle masterstroke is to ignore 9,607,785 of them. “A Copy of My Mind” follows a young man and woman. The young woman gives facials and massages to older, richer ladies. She never shifts gears into prostitution, but she’s expected to serve, and so she serves. The young man lives in a tiny hovel whose heat and smells can’t transfer strictly to cinema, but which Anwar suggests through casual dialogue and a visual palate of sickly, sticky-looking colors and graded shadows. The young man pirates videos for a living. He sits sweating in his hovel freeze-framing English-language movies and their subtitles, to translate the dialogue into Indonesian subtitles. He looks forward to porn. Not much dialogue in porn.
The two young people don’t exactly meet in a cute fashion. They meet in a subtle way, in a video shop, and the first thing the young woman does is tell the young man that his subtitles suck.
Despite that crack, they join forces against the world and against the huge city. He spends his working hours in front of a laptop. She spends hers slaving over warm cheeks, chapped lips, and blackhead-festooned noses. They find respite in each other, despite the heat.
And the movie goes along following these two for some time, making you think it’s a certain kind of movie. Then something nobody saw coming jumps in, and the movie becomes a different kind of movie. And the camera no longer follows the couple placidly. It becomes an instrument for surveillance, for fear — not paranoia, for these fears turn out justified. An abrupt artistic turn, and catastrophic for our couple. Anwar gives us their togetherness and their separation, against the huge tide of a presidential election (to remind us of our own upcoming one), the huge tide of people clamoring for their heroes, their saviors, the ones blessed to be on the large screen. And the couple end up on the big screen of course — the one you’re watching their movie on. But thanks to the director, they always seem small. Winningly small. Two cute mice, trying to stay cool, but drifting too close to the poison.
June 3 — SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival, 6:30 p.m.
June 4 — AMC Pacific Place 11, 4 p.m.
June 5 — Kirkland Performance Center, 3 p.m.
Andrew Hamlin can be reached at email@example.com.