This is a review of the Indonesian film Negeri van Oranje (The Land of Orange), which was screened during the 2016 Indonesian Film Festival (IFF) at ACMI Melbourne.
The film is based on a novel of the same title, authored by Wahyuningrat, Adept Widiarsa, Nisa Riyadi, and Rizki Pandu Permana. The story follows the journey of five best friends pursuing their Master’s degrees in various cities in the Netherlands. Lintang (Tatjana Saphira) studies in Leiden, Geri (Chicco Jerikho) in Den Haag, Banjar (Arifin Putra) in Rotterdam, Wicak (Abimana Aryasatya) in Wageningen, and Daus (Ge Pamungkas) in Utrecht. Overall, the movie revolves around the friendship they foster through their time in the Netherlands, Lintang’s quest to find the love of her life, and of course, the experiences they all have as international students in the beautiful land of orange.
The movie begins with Lintang’s wedding day, when she reminisces about her days as a Master’s student in the Netherlands and also her meeting new Indonesian friends at a station in the Netherlands, who all study in different cities. From there, Lintang pays a visit to each of her newfound friends’ cities, and these scenes introduce in more depth Lintang’s male friends, both their backgrounds and personalities. Their friendship gets even stronger as the movie progresses, and Lintang gets to know more and more about Geri, Banjar, Wicak, and Daus. Eventually, Lintang realises that it is only a matter of time until she had to choose which one of her friends is the one for her.
The movie showcases life as a student in the Netherlands (and other countries in general), which includes surfing through books in the library, hopping from one city to another using the train, preparing dinner together, working part-time, and even experiencing international friendship and love. At some parts of the film, however, I felt that the characters live a kind of ‘upgraded’ student life. For example, there is a scene which shows that some characters actually have their own car and live in a luxurious house or an apartment overlooking the ocean, which, to the best of my knowledge, is rarely the case for most students.
A small thing (but a big consideration for those interested in continuing their education in the Netherlands) that this movie is missing is the struggle that the students go through in pursuing a Master’s degree – heaps of assignments, (almost) sleepless nights preparing for final exams or presentations, or frustrating group work. This is probably not an essential part of the story, but would be a good reminder since studying abroad is not all fun and games.
The movie also shows the Netherlands during one of its best seasons, when the tulips are blooming and one of the country’s biggest celebrations, the King’s Day, takes place. The beauty of cities in the Netherlands – with the many canals, cobbled streets, architecture and street performers – is so well portrayed that sometimes the movie feels like a tourism promotional video for the Netherlands (and also Prague, which is shown in the first and last parts of the movie). Nevertheless, the movie manages to showcase some of the best things there are to see in the Netherlands.
Although, in terms of the storyline, the movie does not really bring something exceptionally new, there are still a few plot twists that make it more interesting. The whole movie is also filled with humour and jokes, which were delivered by the cast pretty well, making the movie enjoyable to watch. All in all, I believe this light, feel-good movie will leave the audience wanting to have an international student experience in the Netherlands (or perhaps other countries), or at least travel to Europe to experience its culture and beauty.