I define a perfect family as a family with problems. A perfect family will validate each member’s complexities and accept them as a whole. Chintya (2019) explores the abstract concept of a perfect family. The film consists of mostly long conversations and arguments between members of a nuclear family. Yet, it doesn’t feel tiresome nor boring to watch at all. Sesarina Puspita, the director, has managed to stage scenes with different intensities of emotions in one small space; a moving car. It provides us with an exciting experience of family turbulence, with no way of escaping the conversation. Not to mention the genuine performance by the late Ade Firman Hakim as the brother and also the other family members, including the baby who managed to stay asleep during an intense argument scene. Chintya (2019) is a well-crafted family dramedy short film about what it means to be a perfect family.
Chintya (2019)’s perfect family are Mother, Father, the brother (Bimo), and the single mother sister (Oi). The film starts by introducing us to Chintya; Oi’s friend, a jobless slacker who is temporarily staying in the family’s house. She occupies the living room, constantly watching TV, listens to loud dangdut, and eats the family’s food. Bimo, Oi, Mother, and Father are frustrated with Chintya, yet none of them has the gut to confront her directly. The family’s tolerance towards Chintya shows that the family conforms to an Indonesian philosophy; gotong royong.
Gotong Royong in literal means mutual assistance. It is seen as an obligation of an individual towards society. The idea is to share burdens between community members. This includes neighborhoods, organizations, and families. Chintya (2019) shows that the Indonesian ideals of gotong royong are still present in the metropolitan society, even if it’s not entirely genuine. The gotong royong idea was further supported by Oi’s permission for Chintya to stay at their house. Oi empathizes with her, even though Oi and her family were disturbed by her presence. In this film, gotong royong was present as a toxic form of tolerance rather than a mutualistic relationship.
With the whole family sick of Chintya, they went on a trip in their car. The setting of a confined car interior forces the family members to talk to each other. From this exchange, the audience got the idea that the family members generally don’t communicate each other’s inner conflicts. We watch them arguing and calling out on each other’s past mistakes. Everyone secretly knew each other’s secrets, but none of them have ever talked about it in person. Just like none of them have talked to Chintya about her actions.
There is a lacking sense of support due to discussion absence. Everyone excuses each other to avoid confrontation, a form of toxic tolerance derived from the gotong-royong ideal. It creates a communication gap between the family members. Which could lead to the makings of a dysfunctional family.
Chintya (2019) portrays a family in a genuine way, with no partiality for any side of the story. It doesn’t demonize women for having an affair and parents are portrayed in a way that doesn’t make them the idealized noble adult figure. Instead, it portrays parental figures as someone who has flaws and insecurities. The antagonist for the film itself becomes a question. One might argue that Chintya is the antagonist. However, Chintya was merely an essential inciting incident that sparks the whole film. Ironically, Chintya was actually the reason why the family managed to strengthen its bond. The film also didn’t patronize the audience on how to deal with family turbulence. Instead, it showed the audience how prolonged tolerance towards someone’s flaws could snowball into a bigger problem that happened because of ignorance and the absence of discourse.
Even though the film breaks the conventions mentioned above, I feel like this film missed its marks by conforming too much to the formal elements of a boxed genre; drama-comedy. I feel like the constant cutting and sudden cutaways serve as an easy way to transition between scenes and emotional intensities. However, the minor flaws of the film were definitely outshined by the performance and the message it tried to convey.