Gadis Kretek (2023) Film Review

Gadis Kretek, an Indonesian web series adapted from the novel of the same name by Ratih Kumala, has attracted the attention of many people since its release on Netflix in 2023. The series beautifully blends elements of romance, history, and culture, resulting in an entertaining and informative spectacle. Gadis Kretek tells a forbidden love story amid Indonesia's political and economic upheaval in the 1960s. Wrapped in heartfelt romance, the series also raises essential themes such as women's emancipation, family struggles, and Javanese cultural traditions.

Dian Sastrowardoyo, Ario Bayu, Arya Saloka, and Putri Marino showed extraordinary acting in portraying complex and emotional characters. Their slick performance brought the story to life and immersed the audience in the storyline. Kretek Girl presents beautiful cinematography. The depiction of the 1960s feels so authentic, from the costumes and decorations to the setting of the place. This makes the audience more connected to the story and feels the atmosphere of the past.

In addition to the exciting story and stunning acting, Kretek Girl also has several other interesting aspects that are worth highlighting:

1.    Depiction of Javanese Culture

This series presents a detailed and authentic depiction of Javanese culture. This can be seen from various aspects, such as traditional rituals, language, and culinary. The audience is invited to dive into the richness of Javanese culture and understand how the culture influenced people's lives in the 1960s.

2.     Beautiful Soundtrack

Kretek Girl has a  beautiful and heartfelt soundtrack. Songs by well-known Indonesian singers, such as Budi Doremi and Kunto Aji, added an emotional atmosphere to every scene.

3.    Strong Moral Message

The series also contains a strong moral message about the importance of family, love, and struggle. The audience is invited to reflect on the values of life and how these values can be applied in everyday life.


Although it has many advantages, Kretek Girl also has some disadvantages. The storyline in some episodes feels slow and lacks focus. In addition, some scenes are less logical and seem forced. Kretek Girl also reaped some controversy. One of the most highlighted controversies was the depiction of cigarette scenes that were considered excessive. In addition, there are some criticisms of the storyline, which is considered unrealistic.

Overall, Kretek Girl is a quality, complex and multidimensional web series, so it is worth watching. The combination of an exciting story, stunning acting, and beautiful cinematography makes this series an entertaining and informative watch. Gadis Kretek is the right choice for lovers of Indonesian historical and cultural drama films. This series entertains and invites the audience to reflect on various vital issues. This series will take you on an emotional journey and open your horizons about the history and culture of Indonesia in the 1960s.

Here are some overseas movies similar to Kretek Girl:

1.    The Joy Luck Club (1993)

The film tells the story of four Chinese-American immigrant families and the complex relationship between their mother and daughter. Like Kretek Girl, the film explores cultural, family, and traditional themes. 

2.    Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

The film tells the story of a young Indian girl in England who dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. Like Kretek Girl, the film explores themes of women's emancipation, pursuing dreams, and overcoming cultural barriers.

3.    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

The film is a Chinese martial arts film set in the Qing Dynasty. It tells the story of two warrior women who must protect a mighty magical sword. Like Kretek Girl, the film features strong women in lead roles and explores love, loss, and sacrifice themes.

4.    The Farewell (2019)

The film tells the story of a young Chinese-American woman who travels to China to visit her dying grandmother. Like Kretek Girl, the film explores themes of family, tradition, and facing death. 

5.    Minari (2020)

The film tells the story of a Korean immigrant family who moved to Arkansas in the 1980s. Like Kretek Girl, the film explores themes of family, immigration, and chasing dreams. 

All these films are well-made and moving films that will captivate audiences from all walks of life. They offer insight into different cultures and explore universal themes like love, family, and identity.


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