Netflixable? The Big Indonesian Conspiracy is awfully dull in “Arini by”

Low stakes, low key, low lighting and generally low energy, there’s not much to recommend the Indonesian Around the World with Netflix offering “Arini by Love, inc.”

Yes it’s quite short, by Western feature film standards. But not a lot happens and none of what does amounts to anything that would hold a viewer’s interest.

We meet Arini (Della Dartyan) as she’s scrambling, with her suitcase, trying to dodge a uniformed guard and street toughs and escape. Something.

But when she stops a cab and climbs in, the sinister woman whose face we don’t see knows her by name.

A flashback to “three years ago” shows us what led up to that escape attempt. Arini enrolls in some sort of total immersion personality-makeover “dating” service, “Love, inc.”

“I want to be happy,” she admits (in Indonesian with English subtitles) upon acceptance.

In a closed campus compound with only unnatural (low) lighting, Arini and other women and men dressed in colorless, shapeless clothes with be put through lessons on everything from table settings (to maximize “emotional intimacy”) to salsa dancing.

The stern Ms. Diana (Marissa Anita) presides over all this, each inmate locked in her or his dorm room, every meal finishing with a (drugged) dessert designed to sedate them for more indoctrination, every lesson aiming to help those there “convince the client that the you role you play is YOU.”

But memories and real identity are what you risk, something Arini picks up from another Love, inc. “customer” inmate, Tiara (Kelly Tandiono). She keeps a book of “memories” that are being erased.

Shades of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Well, except for the romance, the heartache, the humor and the pathos.

This all sounds more like a brainwashing school for spies or (like TV’s “The Prisoner”) ex-spies. But no. This is all about remaking yourself into the most attractive mate possible.

Or so Diana says, insisting that they will merely “feed your mind with happiness.”

Taken at its word, this movie is a laugh-out-loud comment on Islamic Indonesia’s dating scene. Are the Arini/Tiara attempts to get at the truth, to figure out if the guy Arini seems to be set up with is someone he’s met before, and to escape (Let’s crawl into the AIR DUCTS!) an allegory for escaping the trap of the culture and its dating mores?

Possibly. In any event, parable or simple, unlayered linear narrative, the flatlining plot and flat performances of this movie never makes one feel anything save for boredom.

Rating: TV-PG

Cast: Della Dartyan, Kelly Tandiono, Farish Nahdi and Marissa Anita

Credits: Directed by Adrianto Sinaga, scripted by Adrianto Sinagao and Widya Arifianti. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:12


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
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.