Directed by: #AdamTaufiqSuharto
Written by: #AdamTaufiqSuharto
Guy Ritchie once said something in an interview about conceptual films being the future of movie-making; that story driven films were dead. He had however, just made Revolver and was married to Madonna at the time. Mr Madge thought that only concept movies would be popular in years to come and we would see the brilliance in his blue-lit piece of tosh eventually.
Interestingly, it has so far been borne out that he was wrong (on both counts) and conceptual films have stayed at the fringes of the industry, remaining principally the domain of art and film students and those with too much money who want to share a 'big idea'. Here, in Dekaden, we are exposed to the conceptual notions of writer, director and film student, Adam Taufiq Suharto who has brought his vision of a post-apocalyptic world to our screens. After setting up the concept with a single headline on a washed up piece of newspaper we watch as a figure emerges from the sea then loses himself in conceptual thought. Another figure fishes in the sea for sustenance then must face off against invading marauders as the concept then becomes full blown.
But if we just forget about the concept for a moment, which is not at all difficult because it never truly gets exposed, what we get in reality is a few shots of a guy lying on a beach, a few shots of a guy in the sea, and a few shots of some running around on the sand, with a bit of violence thrown in for good measure. To be fair, Suharto keeps managing to put the camera in the right place, he edits well, and he uses slow-mo to generate the effect he is looking for, but then it's not so difficult to take good shots when there's no dialogue, no story, no characterisation and the only thing to hold onto is the visuals – and the sound.
Eirsyad Qawiem provides the post-apocalyptic soundscaping, using horrible electronic screeches and the constant crashing of waves to create an uneasy feeling in this conceptual world. It works well with the visuals, trying to tell its own side of the story for as long as it can before ultimately feeling just as empty and repetitive and unfounded as what's being shown. There's just not enough, in terms of sound or vision, to tell the audience something new or unique or complete.
While there is genuine talent in Suharto's film-making, Dekaden may not be the best showcase for it. If he wanted this film to say something or reach an audience he should have rented a space in an art gallery and displayed it there, at home amongst the other conceptual pieces that surround it. Out in the real world, in amongst the milieu of millions of film-makers who are telling actual stories with identifiable notions and breathable characters, Dekaden gets kicked to the side, onto the junk heap of 'big ideas' that aren't properly expressed and ultimately don't go anywhere. Much like Revolver.