Review Dear David [Netflix] – Review in FilmTotaal
Director: Kuswandi of luck | Script: Winnie Benjamin, Daud Sumolang and Muhammad Zaidy | Cast: Shenina Cinnamon (Laras) Emir Mahira (David), Caitlin North Lewis (Dilla), ea | Time to play: 118 minutes | Year: 2023
In Indonesian romantic comedy Dear David he unleashes his rich and erotic fantasy with the talented high school student Laras. She is head over heels in love with her fellow student and talented soccer player David, who will use any excuse to take off her shirt. That’s not filmed in slow motion yet. When Laras’s fantasy stories about David, entrusted to her digital diary, end up on the streets, he demands something in return.
Things are getting pretty crazy on the head of the seemingly intensely good Laras, who is also in danger of losing her scholarship with the revelation of her stories. The prudish school administration labels it as pure pornography. Laras sees herself as the queen who treats David as her loving slave. Filmmaker Lucky Kuswandi shapes the stories with bright colors and a soft-focus lens, which only underline the exciting content.
Much of this high school drama revolves around a love triangle that is too complicated for teenagers. David has a crush on Laras’ former best friend, Dilla. When he realizes that the wallflower Laras is behind David’s written worship, the football player wants Laras to link him to Dilla. Dilla, who for some inexplicable reason constantly adds English to her language, is also bullied by her classmates. David in turn suffers from panic attacks, driven by an immense need to improve himself and the loss of his mother.
These are essential themes, which, however, constantly threaten to be swept away by puppy love. There is, by the way, a rather adult touch to this, because the way Laras and her companions talk about sex and lust is not exactly appropriate for her age. It’s refreshing that it’s now a (young) man who gets bombarded as a sex object, but this objectification isn’t really up to date.
The role of religion remains quite diffuse in this regard. In Indonesia, which is predominantly Muslim, the Christian minority plays a prominent role here. Both Laras and David are believers, they try to commit to the church and are sent to a retreat along with all their lusts. Of course, that is asking for trouble, but the function of this religious fact remains unclear.
It should come as no surprise at what it will eventually turn out to be. The road to it, that of a love triangle fueled by crazy hormones, is especially exhausting. Dear David is an attempt to put a modern spin on teenage love, complete with self-exploration, masturbation suggestions, and the role of social media. The fact that it nevertheless looks rather dated is mainly due to the shallow writing and unattractive characters.
Dear David can be seen in Netflix.