“TILIK” Review: A Portrait of Our Life in Half an Hour

Posted on 15 September, 2020

Indonesian version, click here

Reviewed and written by Meylisa Sahan – AIYA National’s Blog Editor

Translated by Adolf Richardo BS – AIYA National’s Translation Team

In the last few weeks, “TILIK”, a short film by Ravacana Films became the latest phenomenon talked about by Indonesian netizens. Memes and clips from the film became viral on social media,  showing that this film has a considerable impact on Indonesian people. This film seems to be a breath of fresh air amid the tense situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tilik (to visit in Javanese) is a thirty-one-minute film about a group of women from a village who go by truck to the city to visit a sick village head. The film starts with a scene of a truck walking down the asphalt village road towards the city, where passengers can be heard talking with each other. The conversations mainly revolve around Dian, the village primadonna who generated great attention from all the passengers in this truck.

Women of Different Generations

The simple setting of a truck and a road trip theme did not bore the audience out, since the focus of the movie is the conversations of those women. As an audience, I concluded that there are two dominant main characters so strong in this film, Mrs Tejo and Dian. Even though Dian only appears a few minutes at the end of the film, she has a big part in the conversations of the passengers on this trip.

Dian the village primadonna (Source : TILIK)

Dian became the hottest topic that sparked a heated argument. Meanwhile, Mrs Tejo is a dominant character that believes that she knows everything. These two figures represent women of different generations and cultures. Dian is a representation of a modern woman who prioritizes work and getting money. On the other hand, Bu Tejo believes that marriage should be prioritized and women should marry at a “perfect” age according to society, probably about 25 years old.

Mrs Tejo (Source: TILIK)

Both of these views are implicitly represented in the film. This short film seems to want to explain that in modern times, there is still a lot of stigma against women who choose to work and earn money. We certainly cannot blame Mrs Tejo’s mindset, which can be considered as an “old school”. A fragment of Dian and Mrs Tejo’s story also kind of tells that the women’s movement to support other women has not been fully implemented.

Gossip

Gossip is not a new thing in our everyday life. We hear various kinds of gossip almost every day. Various television channels in Indonesia have gossip programs, mass media generates gossip, and we can even find gossip on Youtube  Gossip is everywhere. The spread of gossip becomes more massive by the presence of social media. Due to the massive flow of information, sometimes people make mistakes and consider false information as true, and vice versa.

Gossip has existed for a long time, and it is a part of human survival. Vice Indonesia, in an article entitled “Ternyata Kebiasaan Bergosip Berperan Penting Atas Kelangsungan Hidup Manusia” explains that the most acceptable theory of gossip development comes from the anthropologist Robin Dunbar. Dunbar, lecturer in evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford, defines gossip as a discussion of social topics. Based on this definition, his study of human speech in 1997 found that gossip accounts for about 65 percent of what people talk about when people are at the mall and other public places. Without gossip, it is difficult to maintain the unity of the larger social groups.

 “Tilik” is a film that tells us about the daily life of our society in general. This film presents our reality clearly, firmly and precisely. The clear picture of people’s habit and Javanese values shown in this film make this film feel so close to the Indonesian people, particularly the Javanese. If you pay close attention, this film has a big mission to explain the impact of hoaxes or fake news to a person. There will always be one person who is considered to have the ability to access more information so that whatever he/she is believed by many. Those considered as “smart people” were then regarded as God who knows many things. Regardless of whether the information is true or false, no one feels the need to verify it. In fact, Indonesia, a country that has a large collective culture, seems to provide space for people like this.

The main characters present in this film also represent many Indonesian people. Mrs Tejo, who was literate in technology, positioned herself as the smartest one. Yu Ning is a strong-willed person who feels that what she believes is true, that Dian is not a strange woman as told by Mrs Tejo, even though in reality Yu Ning does not check her information. 

Yu Ning, a distant relative of Dian (Source : TILIK)

Meanwhile, Yu Sam and Mrs Tri play the supporting roles, giving soft and uncertain supporting arguments. They represent those who just go along with new information and sometimes even fight against each other due to the information. We can also be Dian. Who can guarantee that one of us is never discussed by other people? No, we don’t know that.

Yu Sam and Mrs Tri, the supporting characters (Source : TILIK)

I enjoyed the experience of watching this short film because there are many things to learn. I like the cultural closeness that is displayed and do not just place the quality of the film only at various angles. Slice of life stories such as a culture of corruption and gossip get the right portion in each scene. This film is a kind of breakthrough that states that the power of dialogue and players is the main thing in a film compared to the quality of the camera, sound and even the angle itself. Even though in reality as a complete story package, it feels difficult to find a gap in mistakes or things that are not satisfied for me as an audience. The right music scoring plus the beautiful scenery offered throughout the course of this film, who wants to refuse? The plot twist that is presented is not too biting, it needs a lot of explanation including who are actually the men in the car? Was the husband of the village head who was divorced, Fikri’s father or uncle who the residents saw walking with Dian at the mall? I have no idea. This puzzle seems to be solved together.

Anybody remember this scene? (Source : TILIK