Position Among The Stars

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Jakartan grandmother Rumidjah, an impoverish Christian woman living in the city's slums, is our guide to life in a rapidly changing Indonesia. As her young granddaughter Tari and sons Bakti and Dwi occupy her thoughts, the challenges of life are laid bare.


Throbbing with life and every bit as messy, the concluding part of Leonard Retel Helmrich's trilogy about a Catholic-Muslim Indonesian family feels more like scripted reality than cinéma vérité. The camerawork is too fluid, the framing too precise and the imagery too lustrous. Yet there is something compelling about this soapumentary as it follows ageing Rumidjah from her rural village to the capital Jakarta to ensure orphaned granddaughter Tari doesn't fritter her chance to become the first in the family to go to university by allowing herself to be seduced by Western consumerism. The teenager's opinion seems to matter little, but Retel Helmrich is too preoccupied with artful close-ups of vermin and melodramatic showdowns between Rumidjah's son Bakti and new wife Sri to delve beneath the surface. Well-meaning, but overly orchestrated.

Glossy rather than gripping, it's nonetheless an interesting insight into one of the planet's most bustling corners.