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'Jamojaya' review: Justin Chon's father-son drama leans on its leads to overcome flaws

Jamojaya is named after a legend: as conveyed in an animated clip narrated by Joyo (Yayu AW Unru), Jamojaya was a prince who turned into a banyan tree against his will . Out of love, his brother turned himself into a bird to find him. But they can’t communicate and can never achieve a true reunion – the bird cannot recognize his brother’s new form, and the tree cannot reveal itself even as his brother stands on the branch.

Joyo loved the story so much he named his two sons after it: James (Brian Imanuel), now a budding rapper, and Jaya, who died in a plane crash many years ago. Its sense of search permeates the entire picture, mostly moving, with occasional depressing effect.


Bottom line Powerful acting anchors chaotic family drama.

Place : Sundance Film Festival (Premiere) Throwing: Brian Imanuel, Yayu AW Unru, Kate Lyn Sheil, Henry Ian Cusick, Anthony Kiedis Director:

Justin Chen
screenwriter: Justin Chon, after Maegan 1 hour minutes

Directed by Justin Chon (who, between Gook, Ms. Purple and Blue Bayou excel at crafting bittersweet indie dramas that unravel complex family dynamics), Jamojaya Find James and Joyo at the Crossroads. After a modest success in their native Indonesia, teenage James signs with an American record label, promising to take his music career to the next level. But in order to climb these positions, he decides to fire Joyo, who has been working as his manager despite his complete ignorance of the business. As James and his new team hole up in Hawaii to start working on his new album, Joyo’s surprise visit forces father and son to finally confront years of unspoken guilt, anger and needs.

Chon and Maegan Houang’s ellipsis reduces the central relationship to its most powerful components. James and Joyo’s day-to-day lives before this turning point, or their identities outside of the tense relationship, are only lightly hinted at in dialogue. These two feel less like flesh-and-blood individuals who might continue to exist outside the frame, and more like a pair of archetypes trapped inside the frame, rehashing old wounds over and over again. Ante Cheng’s thoughtful location work and gorgeous cinematography transform Hawaii into a strange kind of fringe space: half Eden’s wilderness, half soulless purgatory. Combined, these choices give Jamojaya a dreamlike, almost raw quality, as if it could also be a kind of legend.

If its narrative beats are sketched out (with some misguided flourishes, including an interminable strip club scene, it seems more focused on appreciating its own artistry rather than expressing a point) the emotions that dance beneath them are intentionally clumsy. James needed Joyo, even though he insisted on intervening throughout the visit – extended by a day or two at a time, because James kept urging Joyo to return to Indonesia, and Joyo kept failing to do so – showing that he was not enough – qualified as a manager, not as an assistant To be valued, not to be welcomed as a guest. In turn, Timid James seems to somehow understand that he can use a loyal ally like Joyo to fight for him. But the more the older man clings, the more James wants to escape his suffocating care.

James is by far the more reserved of the two leads, not least because he spends a lot of time in the film trying to appease his father or his label while he himself wishes are ignored, yet Emanuel’s performance is both subtle and moving. In the rare moments of James’ performance, Imanuel (himself a rapper, nicknamed Rich Brian) displays a natural charisma that clearly explains why the record company snapped him up in the first place. But what really sets Jamojaya on fire is Unru’s rich performance – his face becoming almost ghostly in his passion for James, his gestures in the midst of his many heartbreaks and Slumping under the accumulated weight of disappointment, his limbs waved and he laughed so loudly that they might cry as he began his morning routine.

contrasts with the complexity of Jamojaya As a family drama, its criticism of the music industry is based on clichés that it tends to Yu chews up bright young artists and spits them out as hollow corporate products. Kate Lyn Sheil, Anthony Kiedis and Kyle Mooney, respectively, as rude business manager, pretentious music video director and obnoxious production Human identities appear in secondary roles, but Henry Ian Cusick’s record exec best sums up what Jamojaya thinks: He is A racist, condescending jerk who barely pretends to dismiss James as an artist or have his best interests at heart is all he is.

The two sides of James’ crisis culminate in the third act: a simmering resentment between him and his father culminates in a dinner-table brawl, and not long after he’s angry at the record company for trying Attempts to reinvent him in the market-tested mold became untenable. These confrontations provide the catharsis that we and these characters were waiting for, but when they arrived, they felt overwrought. Of course, they’re less convincing than the jagged disquiet that lay before them. But such a mess, also seems to somehow fit into the story told by Jamojaya – about the kind of love, grief, and guilt that refuses a tidy ending or a clean break, which seems to help But dangling around.

Full credits

Venue: Sundance Film Festival (Premiere) Production company: Tunnel Post Cast: Brian Emanuel, Yayu AW Unru, Kate Lynn Sher, Henry Ian Cusick, Anthony Kiddis

Director: Justin Chon

Writers: Justin Chon, Maegan Houang Producers: Alan Pao, Justin Chon, David Matheny, Joseph Dang, Alex Chi, Yama Cibulka, Shaun Sanghani Executive Producers: Chris Lee, Sean Miyashiro, Derek Hsu, Peter Luo, Martin Hartono, Jennifer J. Pritzker, Luke Daniels, Alex Lin , H. Andrew Kuo

Director of Photography: Cheng Ante

Production Designer: Bo Koung Shin Costume Design: Eunice Jera Lee Editor: Renault Barney

Music: Roger Sun Sales : UTAEnglish and Bahasa Indonesia

1 Hour Minute

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