YUNI: A TALE OF GENDER STRUGGLE AND SOCIETY
A girl's typical yet sad struggle.
"Yuni", directed and written by award-winning filmmaker Kamila Andini and produced by Fourcolours Film, premiered on Thursday, September 12, 2021. It was arguably one of the most anticipated films of the year in Indonesia.
The dialogue in the film is mainly in Banten Javanese. The presence of Indonesian is minimal, which was purposely done for the sake of authenticity.
Arawinda Kirana, who portrayed the main and titular character Yuni, reportedly has no prior knowledge of the Banten Javanese language and culture. It is, therefore, impressive that she was able to portray the role in a culturally accurate manner. According to Arawinda, she was able to do so because she stayed with a local to understand and absorb as many cultural references as possible.
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It is, therefore, to no one's surprise that Arawinda Kirana won the Silver Yusr Award category Best Actress in the Red Sea International Film Festival 2021. The achievement is made even more impressive considering that Arawinda is relatively new to acting.
The film itself follows the story of Yuni (Arawinda Kirana), a clever girl with enormous life goals. As a high school student, Yuni plans to continue her studies and achieve a college degree. Mrs. Lies (Marissa Anita), who notices Yuni's intelligence, tries to assist her in securing a scholarship to let her continue with her education.
However, Yuni later realizes that the adults in her life will be the ones to shape her destiny. It is customary for girls her age (and often younger) to marry in conservative and traditional communities like hers. As a result, she is suddenly flooded with marriage proposals, which she frantically attempts to evade. Yuni sees marriage as a trap that will limit her independence for the rest of her life, while her family and friends consider it a godsend, a gateway to basic domestic comfort.
Yuni then defies an age-old superstition that states that rejecting two marriage proposals will forever deny her marriage. Construction worker, Iman (Muhammad Khan), is the first to be turned down, followed by Mang Dodi (Toto St. Radik), a married man who is willing to pay a $3,500 dowry for a second wife despite him being at least three times Yuni's age.
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In the film, the growing dissatisfaction with the restrictive gender role society has imposed on her is expertly balanced with lifelike moments of her embracing life as a teenager, clinging to remnants of private liberty away from scrutinizing eyes. Although she attends a school that requires female students to take compulsory virginity tests and prohibits music, her social life outside of school is full of curiosity and self-discovery.
At one point, Yuni even develops a connection with an older beautician named Suci (Asmara Abigail), a joyful divorcee whose liberal, Westernized lifestyle provides an appealing contrast to the advice of those closest to her. In a moment of boundary-pushing disobedience typical of urban adolescents, Yuni accompanies Suci to a nightclub, where she consumes alcohol and dances the night away.
"Yuni" is a movie that sets out to portray the life of an ordinary Indonesian girl, wrapped up in the thrill, bewilderment, and apprehension that youths generally experience, and it is filmed and played with an unflashy and convincing naturalism.
The film never hunts out villains or throws accusing fingers at anyone, which is to its credit. The core of the matter that the film tries to address is that maturity and life-changing events are at times placed upon young women like Yuni for too soon, and there needs to be more time for them to breathe, assess the situation, and select which path they want to take.#THE S MEDIA #Media Milenial #Yuni #Kamila Andini #Arawinda Kirana