Quickie Express is a film that marks the coming of age for the resurrected commercial cinema in Indonesia. What best choice then to begin our discovery of the cinema of the archipelago at Udine Far East Film Festival?
Quickie Express has in fact all it takes to bring Indonesian cinema to the foreground of the international film industry, where sadly enough it hasn’t yet made the same impact of other East Asian industries. The quality of production values, writing and acting in Dimas Djayadiningrat’s film are absolutely on a par with any A-list production from Europe and America, as well as Asia. Added to all this, the subject of the film is intriguing and alluring – as well as extremely surprising as it comes from a country that, despite being a secular state, is always labeled as the most populated Islamic nation in the world – as it unravels the professional exploits of a young guy who becomes the top service provider in a gigolo agency, camouflaged as a restaurant providing pizzas on delivery. Quickie Express presents itself as an extremely accomplished sexy that has great remake potential: let’s hope Hollywood takes notice!
The main character, Jojo, is played by no other else than Tora Sudiro, the most luminous male star of contemporary Indonesian cinema. From Arisan! (2003, directed by Nia Dinata, who is also the producer of Quickie Express) on, Tora is the sole actor who can be regarded as a surefire pull to draw local audiences to the box office. Jojo is a nice hunk of 27 years of age, 175 cm tall (actually a not-so-believable datum, since Tora Sudiro is endowed with unusual stature for an Indonesian), 67kg of weight, whose good looks are probably his sole assets on the work market. His attempts at employing himself as janitor in a supermarket and as tattooist, portrayed at the beginning of the film, wind up in exhilarating catastrophes. But Jojo does not give up, because “a loser is someone who just stops trying”. The wheel of fortune turns in his favor when Jojo and his hidden talent (located at his crouch’s height) are spotted by “hunter” Mudakir, owner of “Quickie Express”. At first reluctant because of Mudakir’s effeminate manners, Jojo lets himself convinced by the luring proposal of an occupation allowing him to make (tons of) easy money with not much sweat. But then a pizza place turns up in front of him: how could it be? Is delivering pizzas the much-coveted dream job? Of course! If, in truth, the basement of the pizza restaurant - made up from a bunker dating back from the times of Japanese occupation - hides no other than a training center for gigolos! Jojo is there teamed up with a couple of weirdoes: Marley, a Rasta guy for whom the author of No Woman No Cry is the ultimate deity, and the error-proof connoisseur of G-spot Piktor, who nevertheless keeps taking F’s for P’s and vice versa. The unconventional team begins its adventurous ascent in the industry of pleasure, all at once put into trouble by the blossoming of a love story. Don’t expect cheesy or predictable turns though; the final act of Quickie Express, we believe, will make more than one jaw drop, as the eventual conclusion bluntly defies conservatism and paternalism (an especially risky finale that comes through as very risky especially in light of its coming from Jakarta!).
Kudos go to the brilliant screenplay signed by Joko Anwar, a director (Janji Joni e Kala) and scriptwriter (Jakarta Undercover) that ranks among the most prominent figures of the new Indonesian cinema; and this script no doubt proves to be Joko’s most mature and rounded work. But one has to also praise the brisk and inventive mise en scène by Dimas Djayadiningrat and the contribution of a cast without fail. Thanks to productions such as this, there is no doubt that Indonesian cinema will finally find an international visibility it missed till this moment. And most of all, we hope it will conquer the favors of Udine’s audiences. Welcome Indonesian cinema! Selamat datang filem Indonesia!