This winner of Golden Leopard at Locarno in 2021 is Ranjan's recommendation for the week!
When I read contemporary Indonesian writer Eka Kurniawan’s famous novel VENGEANCE IS MINE, ALL OTHERS PAY CASH a few years ago, I was bowled over by its raw energy and violent characters; so when I stumbled upon the film on
Netflix, there was no way I was going to miss it; but was skeptical at the same time because most adaptations don’t quite live up to the original novel. But not this one. Directed by ‘Edwin’, the film, like the book is set in the rural hinterlands of Indonesia in the late 80s and depicts the story of a young and ruthless hoodlum who falls in love with a woman whose fighting prowess matches his – but there is a hitch: he can’t get it up! Comical as it sounds, there is a painful backstory behind his incapacity that is explored – and resolved in a manner that informs the bulk of the gripping narrative. Co-written by the author and co-produced by Fatih Akin, this twisted tale of violence and hope is sometimes played on a high pitch, but beneath it lies a tender love story, dealt with in the most unsentimental manner.
VENGEANCE IS MINE, ALL OTHERS PAY CASH (2021, Indonesia) is streaming on Netflix.
Ranjan Das is a Mumbai based filmmaker & faculty.