I’ve become absolutely obsessed with foreign cinema. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Hollywood mega-blockbusters, and I certainly thought last year’s “Joker” was a masterpiece, but where are all the low-budget movies directed by film makers with a vision that doesn’t neatly fit into a genre box? I’ve been known to enjoy big-budget summer entertainment on occasion, but like junk food, it’s not supposed to be consumed daily.
What’s so cool about foreign films is that they tell their stories through the lens of their culture. The stories themselves might be somewhat familiar, but everything seems fresh, the references unrecognizable.
“Impetigore” is an Indonesian film written and directed by Joko Anwar from 2019, and it defies categorization. It’s not exactly a horror movie although it loosely fits into that category. It’s just ferociously well-done – a great script, shot beautifully on location. You can feel the heat because all the actors are sweating in every scene. Somehow this makes them more attractive, not less.
The lead actress, Tara Basro, is one of those people you can’t take your eyes off, and she delivers quite a performance here. Indonesian culture saturates this film, and it’s mesmerizing. The way people are bonded together, the way they relate to each other, is both familiar and remote at the same time. You kind of recognize this world but not really – it’s like a beautiful dream, or perhaps nightmare.
All I know is that I was transported to another fully-formed reality for 90 minutes. That’s my definition of a good movie.