Movie Review: What’s Up With Love? (Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?)

Movie Review: What’s Up With Love? (Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?) 

Released on 8th February 2002, “What’s Up With Love? (Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?)” went on to become Indonesian cinema’s biggest box-office draw that year, with up to two million viewers. Set in Jakarta, this teen romance drama brought fame to director Rudy Soedjarwo, and kick-started the careers of main actress Dian Sastrowardoyo and main actor Nicholas Saputra. It also gained controversy among conservative Indonesians for being the first teen movie that featured a kissing scene.

A popular senior high school girl faces a difficult choice; should she admit her love for an unpopular boy and lose her friends, or keep her pride and live in misery?

Cinta (Dian Sastrowardoyo) along with her group of four best girlfriends, form the editorial team of the school’s bulletin board. She submits a poem to her school’s annual poetry competition, and is the favorite to win. However, the prize eventually goes to an unknown boy, Rangga (Nicholas Saputra).

Seeking to interview Rangga for the bulletin board, Cinta is shocked when he rudely turns her down, and takes an instant dislike to him. She complains about him to her friends.

It turns out that Rangga never submitted his poem for the competition; rather, the school janitor entered a poem Rangga once wrote on his behalf. As popular as Cinta is, Rangga is her polar opposite, keeping to himself most of the time, and has no other friends besides the school janitor. Cinta finds herself admiring Rangga’s poetry, and when they discover a shared interest in Indonesian literature, they begin to keep in touch regularly.

Their friendship, though often marred by arguments, starts to evolve into romance, but fear and pride prevent either of them from admitting their feelings. This secrecy starts to strain Cinta’s relationship with her clique, which leads to a crisis of trust among them. Cinta’s guilt causes her to blame Rangga, jeopardizing their budding romance. They break up, but unbeknownst to Cinta, she might not get to see Rangga ever again.

The plot of the movie "What’s Up With Love? (Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?)" unfolds in a chronological order, and the characters of Cinta and Rangga are well developed, as is the interaction between them. The cast of supporting characters, such as Cinta’s clique, Rangga’s family, and other school kids are less well developed, and often are there just to move the plot along, or provide emotional tension.

The main crux of the show hinges on the emotional struggle that Cinta faces, having to choose between a secret romance with Rangga, and her close emotional bonds with her clique of girlfriends. This is something many of us can identify with, and the emotional dilemma of choosing, not between right and wrong, but between two equally grey choices.

However, there are moments which require the viewer to have more than just a tad suspension of belief, such as when one of Cinta’s close friends is hospitalized due to abuse or a scene with a sympathetic airport security guard near the end. These moments break the illusion of reality that the show has otherwise carefully constructed.

Overall, the movie "What’s Up With Love? (Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?)" is heartwarming, and showcases well the hope that young love represents. It will appeal to teens and adults alike, through the believable and likable main characters, effective use of setting and sound, and the emotional appeal it makes.