Netflixable? Teen romance, Indonesian style — “Love Like the Falling Rain”

Sometimes in movie romances, Ilsa leaves Rick, Andie chooses rich Blane over true-blue Ducky and some poor woman ends up with Adam Sandler.

And if it can happen in Hollywood, why not in Indonesia?

“Love Like the Falling Rain” is a dull, bloodless romance that drifts into the insipid zone, so bereft of heat or charm that it almost doesn’t matter that the “hero” is a heel to Miss Right, because he can’t stop loving his “best friend,” the one who dates everybody else in school before she’ll even consider him.

Attractive leads, lovely Indonesian scenery, and endless scenes in an ice cream shop can’t hide the fact that “Vin” (short for Kevin), our narrator, is mooning, whiny sap over Nara, who REALLY wishes he’d fall for his enviro-science club colleague so that she can get on with dating the brooding rock climber Ned (short for Juned).

For Vin (Jefri Nichol), his cute neighbor Nara (Aurora Ribero) is “the first girl to make me understand what love is.”

His understanding? Give a girl a ride to school (private high school, I think) on your bicycle every day since forever, be her confessor/helpmate, perpetually trapped in “the friend zone,” and if you’re lucky, she’ll tell you how she pines for Niko. Or Bimo. Or when she gets around to him, Ned (Axel Matthew Thomas).

Vin can’t blurt out how he truly feels, but damned if he send every signal but that. He sulks. He begs. He stalks off. Nara either doesn’t have a clue, or is hellbent on pretending she doesn’t see his attachment because that would mess up her “best friends forever” dream.

Her “Why haven’t I heard about your love life?” might work for the truly naive. But as self-centered as Nara comes off, you’ve got to wonder how she would have even noticed.

Rude, short-tempered Ned is carrying some grudge at the fairer sex. Naturally, he’s catnip to Nara. But no worries. She wants him to date Tiara (Nadya Arina), who is in his “One Tree, One Million Benefits” initiative work group. And if that’s what Nara wants…

The performances are so bland that the viewer is even less likely to “root for” this or that couple, an essential in movie romances.

We’re left grasping at straws — sometimes literally. Among the little slices of Indonesian teen-agerdom is the ever-green Vin impressing Tiara by politely asking the waitress at a cafe, “Please don’t use straws.”

The third act’s melodramatic turns do nothing to change our minds about who should end up with whom. Perhaps the cultural disconnect is driving this, as this was a popular novel before Netflix bought the rights to make it an Indonesian film.

So many romances have ended with the couple soaked to the skin in a “We’re so in love we never noticed its raining” downpour. “Love Like the Falling Rain” just makes one want to give everybody a towel and send them home.

MPAA Rating: TV-14

Cast: Jefri Nichol, Aurora Ribero, Axel Matthew Thomas, Nadya Arina

Credits: Directed by Lasja Fauzia, script by Piu Syarif and Upi Avianto, based on a Boy Cando novel. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:27

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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