REVIEW: ‘A World Without’ Is Good, Hopeful YA

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A World Without - But Why Tho

A World Without is an Indonesian Netflix Original film directed by Nia Di Nata starring Amanda Rawles, Maizura, Asmara Abigail, Chicco Jerikho, Jerome Kurnia, Ayushita, and Dira Sugandi. In the near future of 2030, the world has survived a pandemic, but climate change and other perils have been leading towards a social collapse. Three best friends, Salina (Rawles), Ulfah (Maizura), and Tara (Abigail) enroll in, well basically a cult, with a charismatic leader (Jerikho) and a promise to wed each girl when they turn 17. In this future, dating is illegal, and so is any behavior deemed antisocial. All that matters is marrying, having children, and working a good job to keep society from collapsing. And, you know, building a good brand for The Light.

Is A World Without a bit corny? Totally. Is it straightforward and predictable? Indeed. Does it have a magical grandma? Absolutely it does? Did this YA film work its hopefully magic on me? You bet it did. A World Without is a familiar type of tale. There’s great oppression in the world and the day’s youth are so accustomed to it that they don’t think twice about casting away with a cult to shed their sins and live a better life. But of course, the narcissistic and deranged couple at the head of this scheme are only pushing society’s problems even worse. What is the point of marriage if not love? They clearly love one another, why should nobody else have the privilege too? Ali and Sofia (Ayushita) are creepy from the start, sure, but they’re certainly a charismatic pair who are great to watch, especially together. And that compelling relationship only strengthens over time. It was actually grating first, but once I bought into the YA-ness of it all, their oddity became endearing.

Salina, Ulfah, and Tara’s relationship were always strong from the start though. The three of them clearly ride or die and their chemistry on-screen is nearly as strong. While their relationship follows some pretty typical twists and turns, even in their nadirs I couldn’t help but be captured by the magic of their friendship and the hope that it provides. Each of them, and Hafiz (Kurnia) too, felt like fully realized characters despite the relatively short runtime and the number of characters to keep up with. Again, I didn’t quite feel this way at first. Things felt a bit rushed at the beginning and a few scenes were painfully scripted to just dump exposition on the viewer. But by the final part of the story, their hopes and desires felt real and independent of one another.

I also appreciate Hafiz’s character specifically for not taking up too much space. While his support plays an integral role in the plot and the emotion of the story, it is delivered as a supporting role, not a co-lead, and in a story about women’s empowerment, I’m glad it didn’t become a story about how he helped save them.

From the production side, I wish the film were not lit so darkly, though I understand sometimes it was a reflection of the atmosphere or the climate crisis. However, the camera work was excellent. The way the camera changed focus in the middle of certain shots was effective every time and I really enjoyed the way the film incorporated text and voice messages as well as in-film footage. I also admire the costume design for the way it clearly denoted near future. I don’t know that I’d expect wealthy folks to dress how these wealthy folks did now, but I can totally see it being the style in 10 years. The trench coat that the members of The Light had to wear also had a really subtle but futuristic design with the wavey cut at the bottom. The film’s soundtrack is also strong, tying in the right type of music for each moment/

While the film does depict some violence, both domestic and at the hands of security forces a bit more intensely than I would prefer, it nonetheless does well demonstrating its core themes. You cannot walk away from this film without drawing parallels to our own society and the consequences of glorifying ultra-conservative societal norms. Yet, you can also watch the film through a lens of hyperbole and find escapism in the hope the film’s ending delivers.

A World Without is a good piece of hopeful YA. It’s got its corny moments, but its leads are all strong, especially the charismatic and creepy bad guys, and its message is far from trite.

A World Without is streaming now on Netflix.


A World Without
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

A World Without is a good piece of hopeful YA. It’s got its corny moments, but its leads are all strong, especially the charismatic and creepy bad guys, and its message is far from trite.