Killing Him Softly

Inspired low-budget filmmaking in this Berlinale Panorama entry: A knight in shining armor-story with a twist.


Indonesian writer-director Teddy Soeriaatmadja presents an inspiring take on the knight in shining armor-tale in his second self-financed feature film SOMETHING IN THE WAY (Indonesia, 2013). Ahmad is a porn obsessed taxi driver from Jakarta who falls for the beautiful young prostitute Kinar and will stop at nothing to rescue her from what he believes to be her predicament. One person’s road to perdition is often another's way to righteousness, but Soeriaatmadja offers a new perspective by exploring all the ambiguities hidden in the old hero/villain binary.

Ahmad is a deluded young man who is puzzled by the realities of life and is struggling to make sense of different world views he encounters that make him feel anxious and claustrophobic. Soeriaatmadja contrasts Ahmad's sex addiction with unrealistic romantic ideas by using considerate shots that maximize his material’s visual potential. The film beautifully renders the inner world of the sensitive and confused young man through the extensive use of close-ups with shallow depth of field—a visual equivalent to his claustrophobic state of mind. The delusions obscuring his vision are shown through focal changes within the shot pointing to the fact that Ahmad is not really able to cope with the realities of the world outside his own head.

The mesmeric blurred shots of the city at night bring a poetic tone to the overall feeling of the film. His choice to use Bach highlights the abyss between the elusive moments of happiness the characters experience and the harsh world surrounding them. By cleverly mixing pornography and romance, SOMETHING IN THE WAY manages to question deeply rooted ideas about ideal love on the level of its story. Soeriaatmadja achieves the maximum with the minimal means by breathing life into a well-known story, inflating it with his creative visual thinking and unearthing its hidden layers.