The man known as Tuah is living in a confused and depressed state as he finds his life being narrated by some unknown force. He begins to search for answers and a way to confront the voice that is constantly describing his life and troubles.

“Balah Tulah” presents, what feels like a traditional folk tale with a comedic twist. It is within this premise that the production sees the most success. The film becomes comedic from the first moment Tuah becomes aware of the narrator. The scene shows Tuah greeting the sun with a stretch, only to hear the mysterious voice, in turn the narrator stops showing some awareness of what he is doing to the man. Throughout the production, the comedic timing is spot on, leading to a great flow in the narrative.

The visual presentation is mixed, with the segments following Tuah shot in a square aspect ratio and black and white, while the narrator, when shown, is in colour and wide screen. Although the segments in black and white are meant to reflect early television programs, it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. With the location work and cinematography being particularly strong in these moments, it would have been nice to see them presented in colour and more modern aspect ratio. However, this is a soft critique as it is speculative if the presentation would have been enhanced by choosing the same style throughout, and within the narrative of the short story it does fit well.

Although the acting is rather minimal, with most dialogue coming from the narrator, the reaction of Tuah and those around him is synced well with the narration. The narration is also well handled, keeping a good pace and staying well spoken and easy to understand. To compliment the voice overlay, the score is well handled and blends well.

Director Adam Taufiq Suharto (“Falasi“) definitely proves he has a knack for thematic and visual storytelling. Within this production, I found myself smiling from start to finish, and able to openly accept the absurdness of the situation, but still appreciate the amount of craft and work that went into the end product. If Suharto is able to execute his ideas in a feature length presentation, he could be an up and coming figure.

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