Emma' (Mother)


Contemporary World Cinema | 2016 | 77 minutes

Stranger Says:

A pregnant Indonesian housewife must hold her bustling Muslim family together after her husband pulls a world-class dick move. Drawing inspiration from classic melodramas, this 1950s period piece may play its cards close to the vest, but the emotions still come through and detonate at unexpected times, particularly during the byplay between the title character (a luminous Cut Mini) and her rapidly maturing son. A story of small gestures and subtle textures, with a resolution that feels just right. And, man alive, check out all those glorious shots of food.

SIFF Says:

Set in the post-revolution environment of 1950s Indonesia, Emma is the story of a wife and mother who is stretched thin when her husband makes a life-altering decision. Athirah, also known as Emma, lives in the port town of Makassar with her husband, Puang Aji, a businessman at a trading company, and her teenage son Ucu. Fully committed to her family, Emma dutifully cooks them lavish meals every night and works at a textile factory during the day to help provide financially. When Emma discovers that Puang has taken on another wife while on business in the booming capital of Jakarta, she is silently devastated. Although polygamy was a very real and common practice in Indonesia for Muslims until the 1970s, her new position comes as a heartbreaking surprise. As the days drag on, her husband’s empty seat at the dinner table becomes a slap in the face, and Emma must struggle to keep herself and her family together. Adapted from a novel by the author Alberthiene Endah, filmmaker Riri Riza stoically molds this emotional tale of familial power structures, loyalty, and independence that realistically the historical domestic situations for many Indonesian Muslims.

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Film Credits
Riri Riza
Cut Mini, Christoffer Nelwan, Arman Dewarti, Jajang C. Noer
SIFF 2017