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Cigarette Girl

Cigarette Girl

TV-14

netflix

A smoky, heart-stirring tale of star-crossed lovers in Indonesia’s 60’s kretek cigarette industry

The Very Best

8.5

TV Show

Indonesia
Indonesian
Drama
2023
FEMALE DIRECTOR, IFA ISFANSYAH
Ario Bayu, Arya Saloka, Dian Sastrowardoyo

TLDR

Warning: Cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health, and star-crossed lovers are dangerous to your heartstrings.

What it's about

While his father is on his dying bed, his irresponsible, youngest son Lebas is asked to find a woman named Jeng Yah, which leads him to discover his father’s long-lost love, who he met in the 1960s, amidst Indonesia’s kretek cigarette industry.

The take

Netflix is no stranger to adapting novels, nor to period dramas – Cigarette Girl is one of many, but it’s one from Indonesia that stands out due to its unique premise and excellent execution. Based on the novel by Ratih Kumala, the show is a slow-burn, smoldering period romance set amidst Indonesia’s kretek cigarette industry, booming in the 1960s, but it’s framed within the 2000s, where the man’s family uncovers his lost love before he dies. The alternating timelines keep the mystery fresh, as each new revelation uncovers what really happened between the two, as well as what would happen with the fate of their families. This intriguing structure, along with excellent writing, and stunning sets and costumes, make Cigarette Girl a compelling show to watch.

What stands out

Cigarette Girl is a stunning period piece, with sets and costumes to match, and the dramatic, smoke-filled frames that doesn’t just stun, it smolders. Visually, the show has everything set, but what makes Cigarette Girl stand out is how well it establishes the main relationship. We’re introduced to the two main leads at different timelines. Dasiyah, as a tobacco heiress who cannot be a cigar artisan due to her gender, yearns for freedom and artistic liberty. Soeraja, years later, happens to be the head of a major cigarette company, who’s about to die. Through the two different introductions and timelines, viewers can already figure out what happened, but it’s the contrast between them that drives the show’s mystery. And when the two finally meet, it’s Dasiyah’s yearning that draws her to Raja, and it’s such a striking meet-cute that makes their romance so watchable.

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