When a crime is committed by the rich and powerful, justice is difficult to attain. With this idea at its core, ‘Photocopier’ directed by Wregas Bhanuteja, embarks on a journey that will captivate your attention till the very end. At the center of this Indonesian mystery drama is a first-year college student, Suryani, who is part of the famous drama troupe at the college called Mata Hari. While the joy of being a part of something popular makes Suryani gleam with joy, the party took away her peace of mind. The fact that she could not remember any details of the party made her question the popular team and its influential members.
‘Photocopier’ Plot Summary: What Happened At The Party?
Photocopier begins with the performance of the Mata Hari team, Medusa et Perseus. The performance fetched them an award at the theater festival, making the college and its authorities extremely proud. Suryani was the website designer for the team. She is a shy college freshman who is delighted to be a part of the team in her own little way. The success of the team landed them an opportunity to perform in Kyoto. Suryani was invited to the success party of the theater troupe that would take place at Rama’s place.
Rama was the poet and playwright of the team; his father was a sculptor and a visibly wealthy man. Suryani was excited about attending the party and decided to take Amin along with her.
Amin was the guy at the college photocopy station; he even lived there. Amin and Suryani were close friends; they had known each other from a young age. They entered the party at Rama’s place and were visibly overwhelmed. Suryani belonged to a middle-class family. Her mother operated a diner, and she was studying on scholarship. The ways of the affluent class did catch them off-guard.
As the party got started, Anggun, the director of the play, offered her drinks, and Suryani obliged. This was followed by a game of shots, and while Suryani enjoyed the party, Amin wanted to leave. She convinced him to stay for a while, though the rest of the night was a dark spot for her. She woke up to find herself in bed and realized that she was late for the yearly scholarship review interview. She rushed out as her father tried to stop her to question her about the previous night.
As she entered the interview room, the men there started questioning her moral upbringing. They asked her if she had alcohol and enjoyed herself at the party. Suryani was left startled by the questions. She was then shown pictures of her drunk self from the previous night that were uploaded on her social media handles. She denied taking the pictures and retorted back, saying that she fulfilled all the requirements to get the scholarship. The men denied her the opportunity, saying that a student’s activity and moral upbringing were equally important. This left Suryani devastated. Photocopier further follows Suryani’s struggle to prove her innocence and expose the culprit.
What Was The Aftermath Of The Party?
Suryani was in disbelief. She could not comprehend how her pictures landed on her social media account. The first element of doubt was the way the photos were taken. She knew that she always preferred using the front camera for taking selfies, but the pictures in question were taken with the rear camera. The doubt was further strengthened when she entered a public washroom and noticed how the label of the blacktop she wore underneath was on the front. That seemed odd considering she would not make such a mistake; she took pictures of the top.
Meanwhile, as she returned home, her father threw her a bag that contained her belongings and asked her to leave. He expressed the shame he felt as his daughter came home drunk. He was especially embarrassed by how his neighbors were aware of it. The previous night, the driver who dropped her knocked on every door to find where she lived to wake the neighbors at 3 in the morning.
With no scholarship to study and no home to return to, Suryani decided to stay with Amin. She was determined to find out what happened at the party. She started taking notes of each video and photo that were uploaded to create a timeline. Though after a point, the timeline was left incomplete, to find more evidence, Suryani decided to tap the member’s phone and find photos of the night.
As the members were getting their documents printed, Suryani asked for help from Amin. She decided to connect her laptop to the PC that the members were using at the photocopy station. She unplugged the WI-FI so that the members had to plug in their mobile phones that contained pictures of the night.
Suryani, after hacking into various phones, had enough pictures to understand the situation of the night. She knew someone had spiked her drink, but the identity was still unknown. She tried to analyze the images. She discovered that Tariq, the production manager, had handed her the shot.
Suryani doubted Tariq’s absence at the party before he came out of the kitchen with the shots. She also had pictures from the previous initiation ceremony of the drama troupe to build her case. Her theory was that the team did unacceptable things to the new members of the troupe, and her intoxication resulted from some kind of initiation. She reported the pictures to the dean, but it backfired.
The news of the report reached the team, and they brought in Farah for questioning. Farah used to be a member of the troupe; she was the photographer, but she left after an unspecified incident. Tariq accused Farah of reporting the picture, but she denied it. Taking advantage of the situation, Suryani accused the team of intoxicating her as a part of some strange ritual of the team. Anggun could not accept the accusations and decided to go through the CCTV footage at Rama’s place.
What Was In The CCTV Footage?
The team gathered at Rama’s place as they went through the CCTV footage. They noticed how Suryani was getting drunk as the night progressed, and she eventually passed out. They even watched Tariq go through a breakdown in the kitchen, the reason why he was absent from the party.
The CCTV footage showed Suryani being carried by team members who helped her get inside the NetCar that was booked by Anggun. Therefore, the question of foul play was discarded by the team members. Rama’s father proposed paying Suryani’s tuition fees for college and also agreed to provide her with a job to help him create his website. Even though Rama’s family was overtly helpful, there was a feeling of being taken advantage of that Suryani felt, and she knew that night wasn’t as simple as everyone wanted her to believe. She returned home to Amin and decided to get drunk just to check how much alcohol was required to get her drunk enough to pass out. From the video, she had learned that she had just had four drinks on the night of the party, not enough to get her that drunk, she believed.
What Was The Connection Between Rama & The Photocopier?
As Amin and Suryani got drunk, they danced and even took pictures of their faces and arms using the photocopier. It was established that Suryani needed a lot more than just four drinks to get really drunk. As she tried to revisit the route taken by her NetCar, she realized that the place where the car had stopped to change tires apparently had a statue that she had previously seen. She remembered finding a photo of the statue on Rama’s phone. The picture that was taken that night.
With her doubts on Rama, Suryani knew she would need access to his phone to find his location on the night of the party. Amin asked Rama to give him the files he had previously submitted, as they were lost. Rama logged in to the computer, though when the permission for access was generated by Suryani’s laptop, he did not accept it. He had his doubts and decided to take a screenshot of the permission for access.
Desperate to find information, Suryani turned off the power to keep Rama logged on to the computer. Rama left the station, but before he did, he asked Amin for something that he kept in his drawer. After Rama left, Suryani threatened Amin to show her what was inside the drawer. A hard drive was found. Amin said he did what he had to do to provide for his family. His sister was suffering from dengue, and the pictures on the hard drive paid.
The hard drive had pictures of various college students, taken from their phones without permission. Photos that were not explicitly exposed but could provide Rama with some “inspiration.” Suryani felt betrayed. She carried the laptop that Rama had logged in with and traced his location in the night. She saw that he was there with her that night and took the same route that her car did. Suryani’s attention also went to the pictures Rama took for the art installation.
Suryani’s doubt regarding Rama’s installation photos began when she could find a similarity in the texture of the images taken on the drunken night with Amin. The photocopied pictures of Amin’s arms and face were similar to the ones Rama had. After inverting the images and applying black and white effect, Suryani learned that the pictures were of human beings and not the night sky. The installations used for the drama were extreme close-up shots of the bodies of Rama’s victims. What he called “pictures of the milky way,” taken on the night of the party, were actually black-and-white images of Suryani’s birthmark. She took pictures of her back to spot the similarities, which was impeccable. She also discovered that he had taken pictures of Farah’s tattoo and used them for an installation.
‘Photocopier’ Ending Explained: How Did Suryani Seek Justice?
Suryani had the location at hand and pictures taken by Rama that helped her build the case. Suryani had enough evidence to report him to the college, but this is when the elite power came in.
She filled out her report to the ethics board, who promised to keep her anonymous, her files were shared online. Rama’s family decided to get a lawyer and sue Suryani for defamation. Suryani’s parents came to the college to apologize on behalf of their daughter. Suryani tried to stop her father from apologizing, as she screamed with evidence in her hand. The college board shamed Suryani and questioned her character for drinking at a party and not behaving well. As she failed to make the people around her realize the truth, her father forced her to apologize on camera and seek forgiveness from Rama and his family.
When the whole world was against her, Suryani’s mother took her aside and said that she believed her daughter. She knew that those were the pictures of her daughter’s birthmark and took her to a safe space where her urine could be tested for drugs to help with the case. As Suryani was at the safe house, Farah reached out to her, apologizing for not standing by her. Farah’s images were used by Rama as well, and it was on the night of another such party when she was sedated and stripped. She could hear the cameras clicking, and she wrote the whole experience down in a journal.
Along with Farah came Tariq, the production manager. Rama used pictures of his arms for installation, and all the pictures were taken without his consent when the subjects were heavily sedated. The trio decided to seek revenge; the common element was the NetCar that dropped them off at home. They realized that the driver must have been involved as well, and were probably asked by Rama to wait nearby so that when a NetCar was booked, he could be the first one to accept it. They approached the driver, hoping to get a hold of his phone.
As Tariq tried various means to get his phone, he refused to fall for the trap. It was when he asked her to change the tire that Suryani and Farah had punctured that Tariq questioned him. He asked him how he could change the tire alone at night when he was returning to Suryani’s home. Angered by the driver, Tariq hit the man before he could say anything. The man was taken to the safe house, and Suryani discovered videos of not just them but others as well on his phone. The subjects were exposed in the videos, and pictures of their body parts were taken by Rama. The driver secretly took videos of the deed for his dirty pleasure. The driver had informed Rama about Tariq’s presence before being hit by Tariq.
As the dengue fumigation was being sprayed, which created enough smoke in the area, Rama entered the safe house with other men and caught hold of all the evidence that Suryani had. During the climax of Photocopier, Rama’s insanity was obvious as he narrated lines from Medusa et Perseus. He believed his crime was justified owing to his inspiration and art. Suryani watched Rama leave with the driver, and all their evidence was destroyed. With nowhere else to go and seek help, the victims wrote down their testimonies and photocopied. This is where the film explains the meaning behind its title,i.e. Photocopier, where all the victims made hundreds of copies of their testimony and spread them all across the campus so that they could get justice for the crimes committed against them.
Photocopier ends with a powerful scene where every victim came forward with their testimony and threw copies of it across the campus from the terrace. The number of victims in the terrace increased, and so did the testimonies, leaving everyone to believe the victims, for they would not remain silent any longer. With her dreams of a perfect theater troupe shattered, Anggun slapped Rama for being a disgrace.
“Photocopier” is a brilliant mystery drama that manages to portray the struggles faced by victims who are silenced by wealth and power. Nothing can be stronger than the victim’s narrative, which is what the audience can take back home after this watch.
Photocopier is a 2022 Indonesian Crime Thriller film directed by Wregas Bhanuteja. It is streaming on Netflix.