Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash
Writer: Edwin, Eka Kurniawan
Based on: Eka Kurniawan‘s novel
Cast: Marthino Lio, Ladya Cheryl, Reza Rahadian, Ratu Felisha, Sal Priadi, Kevin Ardillova, Kiki Narendra, Djenar Maesa Ayu
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2021
Content Note: rape, CSA
Ajo Kawir (Marthino Lio) hasn’t yet met a fight he didn’t want to carry out. He takes any chance he gets to brawl, always in the hope that he will finally feel masculine enough. The problem is: he can’t get it up, and no amount of fighting will make up for that. He finally decides to go for the guy who controls the area, and encounters Iteung (Ladya Cheryl), his bodyguard. She hands his ass to him – and that’s the start of a beautiful romance. But romance may not be enough for them to settle into more peaceful lives.
Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash deconstructs gender notions in a very interesting way, but it’s a little too uneven to keep the promise of its concept entirely. Still, I’d say it’s worth a look.
VIMAOPC is quite literal in its symbolism. Ajo’s violence that masks impotence and said impotence itself being the result of patriarchal violence, takes the usual action movie logic and the associated notions of masculinity thoroughly apart without hampering itself with subtlety.
With Iteung (a perfect performance by Cheryl), the film adds another layer in a woman who doesn’t play by patriarchal rules. Iteung, for me, was the absolute highlight of the film, a female character like we rarely see them on screen or anywhere else.
I did like the analysis that I can get from the film more than the film itself, I have to admit. The film’s sense of humor didn’t work for me at all. If people around me hadn’t laughed and if the paratexts wouldn’t insist on it being a comedy, I don’t know if I would have classified it as such.
The pacing is also off and there are quite a few lengths in the film that I yawned my way through – only to then be surprised by other very rapid developments. That being said, I did like the look and feel of it. Combined with the interesting concept behind the film, I’d still say that it’s definitely worth it to give it a try.
Summarizing: not great, but definitely interesting.