Ice Cold: Murder, Coffee and Jessica Wongso (2023)

Ice Cold: Murder, Coffee and Jessica Wongso (2023)

PG-13

netflix

Entertaining but shallow true crime that's guilty of the same gossip it tries to criticize

4.9

Movie

Indonesia, Singapore
English, Indonesian
Crime, Documentary
2023
ROB SIXSMITH
Edi Darmawan Salihin, Jessica Wongso, Marcella Zalianty
86 min

TLDR

Twitter, please drink some (non-poisoned) coffee before you get involved in a murder investigation.

What it's about

An exploration of the mysteries surrounding Mirna Salihin's death by alleged poisoning, believed to have been committed by her best friend Jessica Wongso.

The take

All the little twists in the case of Mirna Salihin's murder are intriguing enough to speculate over, so Ice Cold is definitely a true-crime case worth revisiting. The problem is in how the documentary indulges sensationalist arguments and pure speculation with the same level of urgency as it does with expert counsel. A large part of the film has to do with how this trial started to become such a fixture in Indonesian public life, but it feels as if the movie would rather provoke even more baseless conspiracies through its gossipy tone than provide smarter analysis. There's an appeal to how simple this case is relative to other true-crime stories, but this shouldn't be an excuse to haphazardly throw opposing perspectives at each other for the sake of drama.

What stands out

If Ice Cold could have been reframed from just one primary point of view, it probably would have become most interesting and poignant through Mirna Salihin's father. Driven by unrepentant anger towards Jessica, the man becomes a complex portrait of somebody who undoubtedly loves his daughter but may also be enjoying his 15 minutes of power a little too much. No matter how the film tries to steer away from any real emotion, Edi Salihin shows us how grief can manifest in unexpected ways we rarely see represented on screen. This isn't to say that his bloodlust is morally correct—no one here is completely in the right, after all—but it's genuine all the same.

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