Yuni: A life out of season

“How do I know what I want? But my future is not bleak.”

Yuni, from Kamila Andini, is a coming-of-age story that deals with the conflict between personal aspirations and societal expectations. These are issues in nearly all cultures, but they seemed to be heightened in many places that have very defined roles for women, as we see in this film.

Yuni (Arawinda Kirana) is a sixteen year old Indonesian high school student. She does well in school—maybe well enough for a college scholarship. As graduation nears, she begins to receive marriage proposals. Her classmates seem to think it is a bad idea to turn down such a proposal. Her grandmother tells her “Marriage is a blessing. We shouldn’t refuse a blessing.” But Yuni wants more from life than to just follow the rules.

As the story plays out, we discover that Yuni has a crush on her Lit teacher. She, in turn, is crushed on by another student who helps her with a poetry assignment. Yoga writes her love poems, but she only sees him as someone to use. We see others of her friends dealing with impending marriage, but not always happily. It is of note that there is one scene in which while with her girlfriends, Yuni is wearing a GRL PWR t-shirt. She will discover that such a concept is very difficult to live out in her setting.

Yuni seems to have been limited to the choice of which proposal to accept. Each is more troublesome than the one before. In reality, Yuni doesn’t feel a desire for marriage at this point in her life, but what else is she to do?

The director notes that Yuni is a name that would be given to a girl born in June. The poem that her teacher assigns her is “Rain in June”, about unseasonable rain. She sees Yuni as a young woman who is being called upon to blossom before she is ready. It seems unfortunate that there are few role models for women that might provide her a vision of what life could be other than following in the rigid gender politics of her society. That unseasonable rain will come into play later in the film as a sign of woe and grief.

Yuni is available on VOD and digital format.

Photos courtesy of Film Movement.

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