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Short Film Review: Basri & Salma in a Never-ending Comedy
Short Film Review: Basri & Salma in a Never-ending Comedy

Short Film Review: Basri & Salma in a Never-ending Comedy

“Those with no kids should be in the middle”

After screening in Cannes last year, “Basri & Salma in a Never-ending Comedy” had a rather extensive and successful festival run, winning awards in Busan, QCinema and Singapore, while getting mentions in Sundance, London Short Film Festival and a number of others around the world. Let us see what all the fuss is about.

“Basri & Salma in a Never-ending Comedy” is screening at Vienna Shorts

The film begins with the titular couple, who own an Odong-Odong at the carnival together, finishing up their day of entertaining kids. Salma covers her head as per Muslim rules, but at that point, Basri’s phone rings and he asks her to pick it up. It turns out it is an unknown man and tells her to tell Rusdi, her brother-in-law to pay his debt by tomorrow, otherwise he will leak a video of him and his wife having sex. Salma ignores it and the two them leave on Basri’s motorcycle, having some fun through a video Salma is streaming on her phone on the way.

The next scene has them sitting with their family, with the couple being mocked, seemingly in playful but actually pointed fashion, about the fact that they have no children. News on TV of police confiscating condoms in the city to prevent immoral acts adds another notch in the setting the protagonists inhabit. The ‘bullying’ about not having kids continues, while the crude jokes come and go. Firman, the one with the jokes, soon gets into a violent fight with his wife, which makes everyone and particularly Basri and Salma even more uncomfortable The next day, the couple continue with their work but something seems to have changed.

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The comments Khozy Rizal wanted to make here are quite evident. In the Islamic, patriarchal setting that is (rural) Indonesia, sex has turned into a deed only aiming at having children, with the couples that do not have the particular mentality, ending up being the recipients of ridicule, mostly from their own families. The ridiculousness of this approach is highlighter repeatedly in the film, with Rizal having the people who follow the ‘rules’ having rather bad, occasionally violent relationships, not to mention owing money to loan sharks.

Basri and Salma on the other hand, are obviously happier than the rest, even without children, while the fact that they can enjoy sex as a source of pleasure is highlighted quite eloquently in the finale of the short. This scene also makes another comment, about what sex can be and is actually, in contrast to the aforementioned rules. Lastly, a comment of how much social media have penetrated Indonesian society is also evident throughout the movie.

Apart from comments, one of the best aspects of the film is definitely the way Rizal uses humor. Here, it is absurd, crude and deadpan, finding its apogee in the music video scene which is bound to make anyone laugh with how in-your-face all the aforementioned comments are. The final scene also moves in the same path, additionally including a sense of sensualism that also adds to the entertainment the movie offers. One could say that “Basri & Salma in a Never-ending Comedy” is as entertaining as they come, with the film including fights, humor, sex and a lot of music.

It is also rather well shot, with Rizal’s own editing being a definite part of the humor, while the combination of Andi Moch Palaguna’s cinematography, Bilal Raviadi’s art direction and the overall coloring resulting in a series of scenes that are quite impressive to watch. As such, it is easy to say that the quality of production here is definitely top-notch.

Arham Rizki Saputra as Basri and Rezky Chiki as Salma showcase their chemistry in the most amusing fashion, with the fact that she seems to have the upper hand adding a role-reversal element in the film, which could also be perceived as a comment. From the rest of the cast, the one who stands out is Alghifahri Jasin as Firman, with him being convincing both as the ‘joker’ and a rather violent man.

“Basri & Salma in a Never-ending Comedy” may seemingly aim for impression and to please the audience with its comedy, but the comments it makes are as pointed as they are realistic and interesting, resulting in a film that thrives on all levels.