Elephant Mother Review (2023)

After Delicious Horror (2022) succeeded in exploring the local wisdom of the Batak culture on the big screen, and received positive reviews from the audience through the hand of Bene Dion Rajagukguk, now it is Muhadkly Acho’s turn to present the local wisdom of the Batak people through the television screen. Acho who previously had success directing Because of Inheritance (2022) and Ghostwriter 2 (2022), it seems that he is becoming more fluent in working on his latest work. For the first time working on a web series, Acho certainly had to be able to make his script more dynamic and not sloppy in handling the problems that arise in each episode, and this time Acho succeeded.

The 8-episode series, which was translated from the work of journalist Ira Gita Natalia Sembiring, feels right in creating a space for problems that are usually experienced by Batak people in general. The problem of marriage, which has always been a scourge among Batak mamak women, has managed to reveal the difficulties faced by a number of individuals whose age has reached the crucial limit of marriage where arranged marriages are always the last alternative if they cannot find a mate in the usual way.

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© Prime Video

Synopsis Elephant Mother

Elephant Mother follows the story of mother and daughter, Mamak Uli (Tika Panggabean) and Ira (Marshanda) who are always fighting every day, because Ira has not yet found a match for her 30th birthday, and her mother is of course worried about this.

Ira, whose body is somewhat fat, has a very large appetite, even becomes the butt of her mother. The mother tried every way, starting from bitter melon juice, herbal medicines, even adjusting her child’s diet so that Ira’s body returned to normal. However, this of course cannot be realized instantly.

With regard to matchmaking, her mother kept a record of her friends at church every day, who had not married children, she looked for and handed it to Ira. Mamak Uli was really strict about this mate, to the extent that the partner he had to get had to be a Batak person. Ira was tired of making it. Until one day Mamak Uli checked Instagram and found the child of his childhood friend, who had a son named Marsel (Dimas Anggara) who was not yet married.

Mamak Uli’s friend, who is usually called Tante Duma (Tamara Geraldine) and her husband, Uncle Simon (Paulus Simangunsong) are also very strict, especially choosing a mate for their child.

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Until one day they finally agreed to match Ira with Marsel. Is this problem with mate is finished? Of course not. Many problems hinder Ira and Marsel. The main thing is that Marsel already has a girlfriend named Anita (Mikha Tambayong) who has been dating for years. However, Marsel did not dare to introduce Anita to his parents because he was not from Batak. However, during the matchmaking event, what surprised me was Ira’s decision to immediately agree with her parents’ decision.

Not without a definite reason. It turns out that Ira devised a strategy with Marsel so that they pretended to be close for 3 months with the excuse that they could get to know each other better. Ira didn’t want her mother to terrorize her every day if the matchmaking problem was cancelled, so she devised this strategy so that she and Marsel could freely live their own lives.

Ira is also looking for a mate through dating apps, and she is assisted by her colleagues at the office, Igun (Dicky Difie) and Sasa (Kezia Caroline) to give Ira advice and input. What makes the atmosphere in this office even funnier is the presence of Mas Yogi (Silolox) who is their boss in the office. Mas Yogi, who has a big crush on Ira, tries to get close to him, but Ira is smart, always able to divert attention with other things that his boss can’t refuse.

Ira and Marsel’s approach continues to be monitored by their family. Every day Marsel had to pick up Ira at the office, and it was in the car that they shared their difficulties and supported one another. Marsel also told this to Anita about this arranged marriage, also brought him together with Ira, and Ira also convinced Anita that this was just an act, while looking for a way so that Marsel could talk about Anita to his parents. Was Marshall’s attempt successful? And did Ira manage to find her match on the dating app?

Elephant Mother Review

An interesting story wrapped in fresh humor

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© Prime Video

The issue of the difficulty of getting married among the Batak people is the main issue raised in Elephant Mother. An actual issue relate with the daily problems of Indonesian people in general. The problem of age and not yet getting a mate, will be a catalyst for other things, namely arranged marriages. This will make the problem more complicated and more interesting to discuss. Acho cleverly made the script of Iragita Sembiring’s life story into an emotional story, spiced with sadness and also the joy of the main character.

Interspersed with crisp and not crisp humor throughout the episode, Elephant Mother not at all boring to watch, even interesting to watch many times. Inserts of humor from Dicky Diffie, jokes from Kezia Caroline, and annoyance from Silolox, will make us laugh out loud. Not only that, two employees of Marsel’s cafe, played by the comic duo, Ali Akbar and Boah Sartika, only added to the commotion, when the filming scene moved to Marsel’s cafe. For this one business, Acho is indeed the champion, and in Elephant Motherall jokes it went smoothly to completion.

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© Prime Video
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© Prime Video

Solid Narration and Qualified Acting

The main elephant narrative is fairly solid. Iragita’s personal experience was successfully portrayed by Acho on the screen with all its problems. Sets that move around will make us not get tired of seeing it. The thickness of the Batak nuances is not only portrayed in person, but can also be seen at the shooting location. An interesting description was made by Ira and Mamak Uli while attending the service at HKBP Pasar Minggu which was quite magnificent in that area. You can really feel the Batak nuance, especially when Mamak Uli listed one of his friends’ children in front of the church. One of her friends was found and Ira half-heartedly met her mother’s friend’s child. Don’t forget that Mamak Uli also made a small bet with his friends, about whether or not their children could get close right away.

Tika Panggabean and Marshanda really liven up their roles in this series. Marshanda, who has been absent from the screen for a long time, is still proficient in front of the camera. Her natural acting as Ira deserves a thumbs up. Likewise, Tika Panggabean, who had previously successfully played the role of Mak Domu in Delicious Horror (2022), reprising her role well as Mamak Uli who has to struggle alone to raise her only child. Elephant Mother filled with cast ranks that feel just right to fill the characters provided, and as a whole can build the ups and downs of this matchmaking story better until it’s finished.

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© Prime Video

Elephant Mother Conclusion

As an Original Series from Prime Video, Elephant Mother convincingly succeeded in wrapping up the central issue of some parents whose children are not yet married. Even though the background is Batak culture, this issue occurs in many other areas in Indonesia. There are no fundamental deficiencies that need to be observed, everything works as it should. Qualified acting, fresh humor, also a scene that feels right. This series can also be a lesson for parents to be wiser in dealing with classic problems that have been going on in our society so far. So, for those of you who like Delicious Horrorwill definitely fall in love with Elephant Mother directed by Muhadkly Acho


Zephyrine is an experienced film critic who has worked for many magazines and websites specializing in cinema. She has a deep education in film history and theory, as well as a passion for classic and independent films. Writing style: Zephyrine always evaluates films objectively and honestly, not influenced by external factors such as the fame of actors or directors. She often focuses on the content, screenplay, technique, and personal feelings to provide insights and reviews of the film. Her writing style is easy to understand and familiar to readers, but also professional and profound. Notable articles: "Step Up" - Success comes from the perseverance and relentless effort of young people "The Social Network" - A fantastic documentary film about the birth of Facebook "Moonlight" - A touching story about love and the essence of humanity "Nomadland" - A poignant journey of a mature woman "Parasite" - A sensational film of Korean cinema with profound social messages.

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