Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's Up with Love?

What's Up with Love? (Indonesian: Ada Apa dengan Cinta?) is a 2002 Indonesian film directed by Rudy Soedjarwo. The Indonesian title is actually an untranslatable word play, as Cinta  (Indonesian for "love") is also the name of the main character. As such the title can be translated as "What's Up With Love?" as well as "What's Up With Cinta (the person)"


Cinta is a popular teenage girl living a comfortable lifestyle, surrounded by a group of faithful friends, caring and supportive parents who are wealthy and happily married, giftedness and accomplishments, and the most popular boy in school having the hots for her. The story begins with Cinta and her four best friends crying on each other's shoulder for Alya, who has suffered domestic abuse from her father. Cinta recites the group's pledge to the buku curhat (a kind of diary/scrapbook the five girls share) that all problems any one of them is going through is to be shared with all, thus illustrating the closeness of their friendship.

Cinta and her four best friends are also the editors of the school bulletin board. Cinta is a reputable school poet, and in her final year of high school she submits a beautiful poem to the yearly poetry contest, as she always had. While the crowd was cheering expectantly for Cinta to win the contest yet again, the grand prize is, to their surprise, awarded to Rangga. The crowd is even more gobsmacked when Rangga, rather than proudly receiving his prize on the podium, took offence and retreated to his lonely hiding place.

In direct contrast to Cinta, Rangga is a character whose name is rarely heard of in the school, whose best friend is the school janitor. Rangga lives in a lower middle-class neighbourhood with his father Yusrizal, whose outspokeness has led to bomb threats from pro-government thugs. Rangga's hurts include his parents' bitter divorce caused by Yusrizal's disengagement from the government office for exposing government corruption.

While being careful not to show it, Cinta is somewhat jealous of Rangga's unexpected victory. This jealousy as well as public curiosity leads Cinta to search for Rangga and request an interview for the bulletin. Rangga immediately detected the subtle insincerity in Cinta's congratulations and replied with a cold "I don't need your congratulations," and left. What Cinta perceived as Rangga's arrogance left Cinta rather irritated for some time. As it turned out, Rangga never entered his poem for the contest; it was submitted on his behalf by the school janitor. Cinta started finding herself admiring Rangga's poetry. The two began to keep in touch regularly due to a shared interest in rare classical Indonesian literature, and although constantly coloured with quarrels and arguments, a friendship blossomed between the two. However, fear and pride prevented Cinta and Rangga to admit that they liked each other and that their friendship was evolving into something romantic.

Cinta and Rangga's secret friendship causes a dramatic changes in Cinta's behaviour, thus resulting in problems with Cinta's group of girl friends. Rangga is not exempt from the consequences either; along with a few friends, Borné, a popular rich boy who had been trying to woo Cinta into a relationship, beats Rangga up. One day, a date with Rangga makes Cinta ignore a desperate phone call from Alya. This produces a tragic consequence and a crisis of trust among the five friends. Cinta's guilt and shame at herself causes her to lash out at Rangga and jeopardise their friendship. The question is, will the crisis ever be solved, and will Rangga and Cinta get back together? What's up with Cinta?


The adventure of What's Up with Love? lies in the question of whether damages caused by the "forbidden romance" were reversible, and whether it was possible for Cinta to remain faithful to her girlfriends without losing Rangga. The film is coloured with Indonesian mainstream as well as sidestream values, elements of classical culture and politics, real issues encountered in teen life, and unique adventures and surprises. It is, however, artistically packaged in a format that is watcher-friendly to an audience.

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