ARUNA & HER PALATE

Aruna & Lidahnya

Directed by Edwin

Cast: Dian Sastrowardoyo, Hannah Al-Rashid, Nicholas Saputra, Oka Antara

Official Selection, 2019 Berlin International Film Festival

Epidemiologist Aruna may be sent on a nation-wide work trip to investigate an avian flu outbreak, but really her pathologies of choice are lovesickness and being an incurable foodie. Conveniently, her two best friends–a talented chef and his girlfriend–have similar afflictions too, and the three of them hit the road to check off all the culinary delights Indonesia has to offer. Inconveniently for Aruna, tailing them is a former work colleague, who she’s had an unrequited crush on for two years.

In a clever play on the gustatory diversions of the food genre, the shimmering street dishes and traditional meals keep distracting Aruna from her work. Or is it vice versa? Director Edwin whips up a delectable comedy that winks at the audience, throwing us narrative curveballs so we can land back on a comforting plate of nasi goreng. If his previous films delved into modernist ennui, his latest is a blast of carefree pleasures, with a plucky protagonist and a retro score that ensure a filling and belly-warming finale. Brian Hu

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