The Oscar Season is slowly heating up(hell winters in Mumbai are too this year) and it is for the first time that India and Pakistan, both have made it to the top 15 at the Oscars ’23 in the foreign film category. Both Chhello show and Joyland have been shortlisted thus making it a proud moment for both the countries. The former is the first Indian film in over 20 years(after the phenomenal Lagaan) which has made it to the Top 15. This in itself is a proud moment of sorts especially because no one was really giving it a chance after the grand RRR Snub, speaking of which RRR’s Naatu Naatu song has been nominated under the Original Score category as well. So all in all a great day for the Indian Subcontinent.
But it was yesterday that I discovered that another film which was then submitted as Indonesia official selection to the Academy Awards(it did not make it to the Top 15), Missing Home is available on Netflix. And so I decided to give it a go this scratching off another International film from the Academy list. So then is Missing Home worth your time, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Missing Home follows the story of an aged couple who stage a divorce in order to encourage their children to return to their hometown. The story is warm and something that will instantly be palatable to the audience from the subcontinent. The warm and fuzzy vibe would instantly put a smile on your face right from the beginning. The screenplay standing at less than 2 hours doesn’t overstay its welcome and makes for a pleasant watch.
The drama has a very personal vibe to it from the very first scene. I have observed that as parents begin to age they expect their children to be near them and rightly so. This is a sentiment that would be universally appealing and would resonate with many people. So the proceedings definitely have a warm vibe to it with an undertone of patriarchal dominance but in a subtle manner. We are introduced to the protagonists featuring an aged couple living with their daughter while their three sons are away and do not wish to return. The tone here of a comedy works beautifully in putting a smile on your face!
The drama is engaging and engrossing although fairly predictable. It briefly touches upon the Indonesian culture that does feature certain tribes which I wasn’t aware of previously. It did give me a glimpse into their culture and the thoughts behind it which was similar to some of the stereotypes around me as well. The situations result in some heartfelt moments particularly when the entire family is together. Yes, there is a sense of awkwardness which is well captured but the antics of the parents faking their divorce will put a smile on your face.
I did have a minor problem in the third act where things did get melodramatic. The impact would have been far better than the nature of the drama been tonally similar to where it began and much subtler in its messaging. The entire outpour wasn’t required in my opinion although the writers did well in not really vilifying either parties. Also, the final act did seem rushed although quite heartwarming I must say. The writing definitely could have fleshed out things a little better but to be fair the drama is consistently watchable here. So overall, the drama has a sense of positivity around it with a warm fuzzy feeling that did feel like an embrace!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are funny and make for a perfect situational comedy. The music is beautiful and perfectly depicts the mood of the drama. The BGM is splendid as well. The cinematography captures some breathtaking visuals that could act as a postcard. Director Bene Dion Rajagukguk has all the sensibilities in place and it makes for a heartwarming watch. The direction is pretty good here.
The performances by the entire cast is first rate. Loloz as Gabe is really affable and does a great job. Indra Jegel as Sahat is endearing and sincere. Ghita Bhebhita as Sarma is excellent. Boris Bokir as Domu is pretty good as well. But it is the duo of the parents that steal the show. Tika Panggabean as Mak Domu delivers such a heartfelt performance of a wife who obeys the orders of the man in her house and is in a way invisible. Yet, the warmth of her towards her children was a sight to witness! Arswendy Bening Swara as Pak Domu has a lovely character arc himself. He is phenomenal and does full justice to his character.
Missing Home is a heartwarming and heartfelt drama that will most definitely resonate with you. Available on Netflix.