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LOVE FOR SHARE (Berbagi Suami)
  Publicity Stills of "Love For Share"
(Courtesy from GV)

In Bahasa Indonesia with English Subtitles
Director: Nia Dinata
Cast: Jajang C. Noer, Shanty, Dominique, Ria Irawan
RunTime: -
Released By: GV
Rating: M18 (Mature Content)

Opening Day: 2007

Synopsis :

The story talks about the polygamy in modern Indonesia, where three woman from three different social classes and ethnic backgrounds, conveying their passages in dealing with polygramy; sharing a husband’s love and attention with several other women.

Movie Review:

Love For Share, also known by the title Berbagi Suami, plays like a slow breath of much needed fresh air. Whereas blockbuster Hollywood social commentary films like The Constant Gardener, Crash and Broken Flowers with stark, direct portrayals of the issues at hand, Love For Share opts instead for a soft, subtle presentation. While the former were the forceful voice of a disciplinarian father, Dinata’s Love For Share admonishes Indonesian society’s hidden frailties with the gentle persuasion of a caring and ultimately subservient mother.

Polygamy, marriage and relationships form the central themes of the three intertwined stories and Dinata successfully presents them with a reserved, soothing pace in which the characters themselves carry the film with nuances and emotional evocations that form the key focus of the movie. Absent are the long, winding plots peppered with shocking twists and heart-wrenching tragedies befalling protagonists. The three main characters carry themselves with quiet, admirable dignity.

Salma, the gynaecologist, inspires her son Nadim to love his father, despite his infidelity, (which they refer to as “surprises”, surprises that eventually surprise them no more) through her unrelenting submission and respect, oft-quoting the Koran as her guide. Watch for excellent performances by Jajang C. Noer as Salma, and the invariably charming son Nadim; good-naturedly cynical about his dad while at the same time caring for him with no restraint, showing his compassionate heart as a volunteer for relief trips in Aceh.

The first tale could go on for a full feature length by itself. Love For Share was unfortunately let down by what seemed like a really long stringing together of three movies which individually end almost completely before the next one begins. The opening scene was a disappointment: lackadaisically shot, a bedroom conversation between Salma and a young Nadim between which there was no chemistry at all, a horribly injustice to the excellent story-telling that followed.

Director Dinata may have possibly spoken deeply to the women watching the film, those of whom suffer similar plights. The male characters in the movie carried their roles well, showing the at times twisted desires and priorities in their lives without coming across as demons that preyed on their women. Pak Haji, the politician husband of Salma, carries off his muddle-headed and harmlessly confused character to skilled perfection, often a joy to watch. There is little overt lust in his character, just an inescapable desire for other women unfortunately stoked by religious allowance of polygamy.

The same should not be said for Pak Lik, a sexually overcharged small-time driver who tricks village girl Siti, played by ex MTV VJ Shanty. The film eventually degenerates into a back alley expose of sorts, as Siti is made his wife to “serve him” on nights when he so desired her. Ming, the voluptuous Chinese waitress, taints the movie’s potentially powerful social and religious overtones with her overtly strong sex kitten persona. By then, the film’s thematic value had been well used up and trundling flat-footedly towards the end.

Love For Share is the right film for casual film aficionados that appreciate a honest, meaningful film that addresses social and cultural issues without entering the intellectually argumentative territory. It avoids being preachy, and its characters’ often passive, realistic portrayal of life in the city of Jakarta achieves a wonderfully dreamy atmosphere at times. The soundtrack is sufficiently adequate, complimenting Dinata’s work without unnecessarily drawing the audience’s attention away from the movie’s visuals.

Lazy Friday evenings after a long, quiet week would be a good time for this film. You’ll leave the cinema feeling gently awakened to the bare-bone issues of life in these spiritually and religiously fatigued parts of Jakarta.

Movie Rating:

Review by Daniel Lim


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