Title: Postcards From The Zoo
Cast: Adjie Nur Ahmad, Klarysa Aurelia and Ladya Cheryl
From the start of this film, the audience is led into a mysterious zoo filled with exotic wildlife, park rides, darkness and fog. We get the impression that this zoo is completely different from the real world or from anything anyone has ever seen. It’s a fantasy world and it’s wondrous! We then see a small girl, who is wandering the zoo trying to find her father. She is lost but we never see how or why, all we need to know, as the audience is that she’s lost. Indonesian filmmaker Edwin has effectively captured the strangeness, fascination and awe of childhood and the transition into adulthood, while trying to retain a sense of magic in his new film “Postcards From The Zoo.”
The film follows Lana, a little girl abandoned at a zoo. She is found and later raised by a giraffe trainer, and continues to live, learn and thrive at the zoo. The film is split into two parts; the first involves Lana growing up at the zoo and her daily interactions with the many animals and patrons. The second part involves an adult Lana (Ladya Cheryl) leaving the zoo to learn to be an assistant to a cowboy magician on the gritty streets of Jakarta, Indonesia.
What is so interesting about “Postcards From The Zoo” is when the film makes the transition from childhood to adulthood; the film never makes any judgments on what is found on Jakarta’s mean streets or slums. It still retains the magic and awe of childhood and never makes a statement on prostitution or crime. It leaves that to the audience. When Lana leaves the zoo to embark on this strange journey, the filmmaker Edwin still manages to keep the world outside as interesting and relatable to the zoo itself. Substituting people for animals, the filmmaker Edwin frames the film as an oddity itself, as if the greater spectacle is this fantasy world and zoo, and the audience is the surrogate for zoo patrons.
Although “Postcards From The Zoo” is a slow burn of a film, it’s never boring. The images captured are alive and vibrant, and the filmmaking is always engaging. The wonders of the exotic animals and the curiosity of the film’s characters is something to behold and is emotionally moving. There’s enough in this film to poke around in, whether it be the center of the frame or hinted upon in the background. The sheer imagination of “Postcards From The Zoo,” is magical and romantic, while at the same time doesn’t feel self-indulgent or a parody. This is a special film and is something to write home about.