I actually don’t plan to watch “Madre” because, well, recently this Dewi ‘Dee’ Lestari novel-to-movie adaptation is just way too much. We have seen “Perahu Kertas” part 1 and part 2, “Rectoverso”, and now comes “Madre”. Actually “Madre” is based on a novelet, not a novel. I haven’t read it (actually I barely have read all her works), but I always come up to this conclusion that it takes an extra effort to adapt her works into movies. Because, well, it is not an easy job to describe her ability of word-playing into a visual entertainment. “Perahu Kertas” part 1 is good, “Perahu Kertas” part 2 is okay, “Rectoverso” is below average, and “Madre”... well just read more to know my opinion about it.
I’m sorry, “Madre” doesn’t fulfil my expectation, even as an easy entertainment. “Madre” is started out presenting Tansen (played by Vino G. Bastian), a free-spirited surfer from Bali, coming to Bandung. He is heir to a bakery shop called Tan De Bakker and a specific extract of bread named Madre. Madre is the secret ingredients of the success of Tan De Bakker in the past. He then meets Mr. Hadi (played by Didi Petet), the keeper as well as the former worker of Tan De Bakker. At first, Tansen doesn’t want to continue this bakery business because he doesn’t like it. That’s why he wants to sell it to one of his blog-reader, Mei (played by Laura Basuki), the owner of Fairy Bread, a popular bakery shop franchise. But things change as Tansen and Mei suddenly trap in love, and Mr. Hadi recollects all the former workers of Tan De Bakker to support its reopening.
“Madre” is dreadful. Benni Setiawan is the guy behind my favorite award-winning Indonesian movie, “3 Hati Dua Dunia, Satu Cinta”, and “Madre” is of course not a good thing to add on his CV. Look on how he gives significant amount of duration for some comedic scenes instead of giving enough explanation about Madre—which is described so delicious that everyone seems so eagerly obsessed by it—or Tan family. We don’t know much even about the technique of making bread or any other bakery thingy that potentially enrich “Madre”. All we know is that this scoundrel-looking surfer named Tansen (we don’t even know how Tansen makes his living) being inherited Madre and Tan De Bakker by his deceased dad, meeting the comical Mr. Hadi and all Tan De Bakker ex-workers (including this overacting role by Titi Qadarsih), and having crushed with Mei. The bakery stuff is just there, becoming a well-prepared but not well-used flavoring for this romantic-comedy cuisine. Many things are potentially interesting to dig (how about the Chinese culture in Tan family? Must be interesting if they want to look at it), but “Madre” just plays safe with enough necessity to entertain instead of inspiring viewers with new knowledge. So shallow.
I could not stand its first half, but I’m trying to keep watching it (maybe because I had a company at that time). Lucky that at least, the chemistry between Mei and Tansen is nice. Well “Madre” is easy to be expected as just another romance story, and in this case, “Madre” does well. The second half is just okay, either because of this attention-stealing romance—which is actually not a brand new thing—or because of the acting of Vino G. Bastian and Laura Basuki. And how the movie is ended in a non-mainstream ending style of such a romance movie is appreciable, giving a chance for “Madre” to quit from all its mainstream-ities. Still, it doesn’t give me a reason to smile after walking out of the theater as the movie ends because I expect more than just a romance movie-made-for-TV: I expect a value, at least about this bakery thingy, just like how “Madre” is marketed—with all its bread-y taglines and reviews. “Madre” fades out of my mind as I walk out of the cinema.
The only character I appreciate in “Madre” is Mei by Laura Basuki. I think she is the most consistent character among others. Beyond her cute face (LOL), I think she is the most natural. Mei is actually a so-so character of a young career woman with her interest to bakery, but compared to other “exaggerating” roles like Tansen and Mr. Hadi, Mei ends up as the most attention-stealing. Tansen stole my attention in the second half of the movie, where Vino G. Bastian started to show up his emotion about Tan De Bakker and all the workers, but from the beginning to the middle part, he jumps from a free-spirited guy to an over-embarrassing-styled guy. His punchlines are too pushed, his comical gimmicks are too rigid, and his gimbals hair looks unrealistic. But I appreciate how Vino and Laura build their chemistry, and the way they transfer the broken-hearted feeling of love to viewers is nice. Didi Petet is as exaggerating as Tansen, but in a way, he is more natural and he is more “acceptable” with all his comedic lines and gimmick.
How if for a moment we stop adapting Dewi ‘Dee’ Lestari’s writing works into movie? Maybe this is necessary to give book lovers a break and enjoy the books as what they are: writings, not visual entertainment. “Madre” is a proof that the quality of this novel-to-movie adaptation is decreasing. There is nearly no value can be absorbed from “Madre”, it is just a romance drama that—thanks to Vino and Laura—has its moment. It’s not a movie about bread or what. It’s just a love story that is akin to those made-for-TV movies. I’m sorry.
▲ Chemistry between Vino and Laura
▼ Shallowness all around, comedic performances are too pushed
MADRE | COUNTRY Indonesia YEAR 2013 RATING 17+ RUNTIME 107 min GENRE Drama, Romance, Comedy CAST Vino G. Bastian, Laura Basuki, Didi Petet, Titi Qadarsih, Framly Nainggolan WRITER Dewi Lestari (novelet), Benni Setiawan (screenplay) DIRECTOR Benni Setiawan (screenplay) MORE INFO