Perempuan Tanah Jahanam [Impetigore] (2019)

Perempuan Tanah Jahanam
Director: Joko Anwar
Writer: Joko Anwar
Cast: Tara Basro, Ario Bayu, Marissa Anita, Christine Hakim
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2020

Maya (Tara Basro) and her best friend Dini (Marissa Anita) are both toll both attendants, struggling to just get by. After Maya is attacked on the job by a stranger who calls her by another name, they decide to change work and try to open a clothing store. But things don’t really get better. Until Maya uncovers some information prompted by her attacker that makes her realize that she might have a big inheritance in the country waiting for her. Maya and Dini pack their bags to figure everything out. But when they arrive in the village, things turn decidedly strange.

Impetigore has very strong elements, but a story that was absolutely confusing for me. Maybe I just lacked cultural context, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, so the film mostly left me with questions, and not really in a good way.

The film poster showing Maya's (Tara Basro) face, only instead of her eyes are two upside down heads.

The beginning of the film was probably its best part: the scene in the toll booth was tense and scary and promised great things. But the film just didn’t keep up with its own opening. I mean, there are strong scenes that come after it as well – the first night in the house, or the very last scene (although that, too, opened many more questions than it should have). But the film stumbles over itself a lot.

Also, because it really starts to drag. Especially since Dini – absolutely my favorite character in the entire film – disappears pretty early on. After that, the film just feels mostly long. I did fall asleep after that, although I woke in time for the solution of the story and the showdown. But I was still very confused by everything.

Maya (Tara Basro) and Dini (Marissa Anita) at the gate of the house Maya hopes is her inheritance.

And I don’t think things would have been different if I hadn’t slept a wink, either. Because I asked my friend to fill in the gaps and whatever question I had, she couldn’t answer either. Those questions mostly concern the whys and the how it all is supposed to fit together. It might really just be that I just don’t know enough about Filipino culture to make the necessary connections, but whatever the reason – it made the film frustrating for me.

That meant that overall, despite the very strong moments, the parts that didn’t work for me prevailed, unfortunately.

Dini (Marissa Anita) and Maya (Tara Basro) walking through a cemetery.

Summarizing: meh.

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