Gewoon Vrienden (2018) being played in public in the current Indonesia is beyond my imagination. After what we have seen with what the hardliners in the country to Garin Nugroho’s most recent movie titled “Memories of My Body” (Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku), this queer movie imported from the Netherlands might be the next movie to ban for the public to watch.
But that night, it was not proven so.
At the Dutch Embassy in Jakarta, I managed to watch the movie away from the conservative groups’ threat. I’ve been always appalled by the hatred they spread on social media, that LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) is cursed by God the Almighty.
My first impression is that the movie must tell a lot about the romance between two young, handsome Dutch men. And I’m right.
It’s quite predictable. Two young men named Yad and Joris – both are physically attractive, fit-bodied – are attracted to each other in some way and finally a sweet, happy ending.
Many admired Josha Stradowski’s acting quality here. So do I.
He acted as Joris, a heartthrob who throughout the movie are sporting his crew-cut hair and slender, lean, tall male body. And for those who are wanting to see him with no clothes on, try watch a scene when he is told by his mother that he wore the underwear the wrong side. Surprisingly, Joris immediately pulled down his underpants and walked away like no one cares really. Because if you have a body of Greek god, they say you can walk naked anywhere you wish. And it’s kind of true. Joris is a young man with a high level of virility and vitality. He works out a lot to stay in shape and to find a man, too. There’s a scene when he was stunned by someone’s boner while the man is performing a benchpress in front of him. As a gay man, it was quite often to be aroused in gyms because there’s a lot of skin exposed and masculinity is at its finest. Gym rats are showcasing their achievement: oversized muscles.
But Majd Mardo’s performance is not less impressive either. Acting as Yad, Mardo succeeds to show how screwed his life is. His mother wants him to get his life together before it’s too late. In his twenties, Yad still has shown no interest in choosing a ‘proper’ career path. His determined mother wants him to get mature, living a life just like his sister who goes to college and aims to climb a clear career path.
Their paths crossed when Yad works at Joris’ grandmother. Joris’ mother saw Yad as a suspicious young migrant who could rob her mother anytime. So she sent her son to pay his grandmother a regular visit.
They immediately got attracted to each other. And the story continued smoothly.
The one and only conflict found here is that Yad thinks Joris must be able to come to terms with the rest of the world’s homophobia. There’s a scene showing Joris was angered by a group of young men and women just because they yelled ‘fag’ at him and Yad, who was having good time with him. Their good time unfortunately was disrupted by Joris’ being provoked.
In the world where identity politics and right wing political views are getting stronger, this movie seems apt to depict that even in the ‘most civilized, progressive and developed’ West (the Netherlands), minorities still may get discriminated and treated unfairly or ostracized and bullied for what and who they are.
My last verdict is 4 stars out of 5 for this movie. It could’ve performed better if the plot had been more shocking or unpredictable.
Have you watched the movie yourself? And what do you think of it? Please leave your comment below. (*/)