Life isn’t easy for the titular character in Kamila Andini’s Yuni (Arawinda Kirana). When she buys prepaid internet on her phone from her fellow classmate, Yoga (Kevin Adrillova), he awkwardly breaches the subject of the first marriage proposal. Marriage, by the way, comes with dowry money, but it also disqualifies her from certain scholarships. Other than marriage and her tendencies for fighting and stealing purple things, another thing stopping her is bad grades on literature. Turns out, Yoga knows a lot about literature.
Yoga helping Yuni out on her literature assignments – he literally writes poems for her – start a relationship that has its barriers in a country that practices Islam in an oppressive way. Oppression, nonetheless, isn’t a total state, as the film shows. It shows how do their best avoiding life and death situations. Specifically, it shows them going to clubs and hanging out with divorcees in clubs in a scene that smoothly transitions from awkward to adorable. It also shows their own version of adulthood.
Yuni, nonetheless, keeps things real by showing the specter of death and danger that girls and women in Indonesia face. It’s a reality that most of the girls know. Scenes show Yuni and her friends crying when community members accuse someone in their circle for adultery, forcing her to marry a boy who didn’t even touch her. Seeing one girl’s oppression affects all of the girls. The film shows how oppression can bond people and the limits when one faces stronger forces.