May (Raihaanun) was only a teenager when she was raped by several men when she played at a small theme park. Until 8 years later she was still haunted by trauma, she still couldn’t live like any other ordinary girl at her age. She confined herself in her tiny white room with her monotone daily routines.
The tragedy was not only affecting her, it also affected her father (Lukman Sardi). He blamed himself in the fall of his family. Contrast from his silent daughter, his life was full of noise and harsh activities to release his anger and also punished himself.
The director, Ravi L. Bharwani, through his deep research is understand about trauma from sexual assault at the young age. It takes a long time to accept what has been done, it is a complex problem that can also affect the closest circle.
The movie of 27 Steps of May bring us a story about a victim of rape and her closesnt circle deal with personal trauma and grief for many years. The storyline run in deliberately slow pace to make us understand and to create empathy between audiences and the main characters’ problems.
May never take step outside of her room except when its time to eat. She worked in her room to create costumes for barbie dolls before they were sold. She did skipping rope every night before she went to bed. The world of May was only her little-white-bedroom that almost had nothing beside a bed, few lamps, and shelf for barbie dolls.
After the incident happend, she spoke with no one. Everytime her memory triggered with the incidents, she prefered to ‘embrace’ herself with a razor blade to hurt her wrist. On the other hand, her father prefer to ‘embrace’ himself with anger and fights insight a boxing ring before he was dispelled due to his rage.
The only time they were in the same space was when it was time to eat. Although they were together, the movie wants us to feel disconnectivity between May, her father, and their world through their silence.
The interesting part of this movie is its theatrical element. The trauma and the routine of May and her father were displayed in a beautiful visual. Although their interaction almost had no dialogue, but the visual was very expresif. In this movie, the silence was louder than the dialogue.
One day, suddenly there was a small crack in the wall of May’s room. From there she saw a house next door where there was a man and he was a magician (Ario Bayu). The magic in here become an important element for the story development.
It is unique and smart at the same time for the movie takes magic as its important storytelling element. The magic makes this movie feels more balance, more beautiful, and more magical.
Magic (as a wonderful unexpected things) became May’s medium to control and to befriend with things that were unexpected, magic was the disturbance to her monotone daily routine. That was also the reason why she tried to learn magic tricks, to embrace the unexpected. Many interactions also happened between May and the Magician that brought something new to her life.
Here in this part, there is a few details need to be fixed. The hole is May’s room connect to the second-floor of the Magician’s house while May’s house is a one-floor house. The hole is actually pretty low near the floor of her room.
Several lacks also found in the storyline. In the first scene before May was raped, it needs more story exploration. There should be a reason for May suddenly went into a small alley alone, because people just do not explore a small alley when they are playing at a theme park. Also the teenage version of May was not portrayed by another actress, it was the same actress with junior school uniform and two braided hair. Poor gimmick.
The ending of the movie also is anti-climax, where she suddenly went outside of her house after she hugged her father with an obvious line. No gradual step, it was just so sudden.
27 Steps of May is a stellar exploration of a tragedy through its symbolism and metaphor, but what makes everything perfect were character developments and the performance of the actors. Lukman’s performance is purely great he showed us a self-loathing father that was also affected by the incident, Ario bring a gentle and understanding figure through the magician character, and Verdi provides a good friend character that stabilize Lukman.
Our score (8/10)
Title : 27 Steps of May
Director : Ravi L. Bahrwani
Production : Green Glow Productions, Go Studio
Screenwriter : Rayya Makarim
Casts : Raihaanun, Lukman Sardi, Ario Bayu, Verdi Solaiman