Sunday, April 23, 2017

City of God (2011)

Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery
Writer: Babu Janardhanan
DOP: Sujith Vasudev
Cast: Indrajith, Prithviraj, Rima Kallingal, Parvathy
Language: Malayalam

Lijo Jose Pellissery's second film features an ensemble cast and has multiple storylines with them getting linked throughout the film. Some of the characters in it are involved with the local land Mafia, one of them is an actress and some are Tamil migrant workers from construction sites.

One big question in multiple storyline films is how often do all of them come in spatial contact in the film. The ones that does it best, like Haneke's Code Unknown and Iniaritu's Amores Perros, keep it minimal but when they do they make it count. My biggest problem with City of God is that the characters from different storylines seem to be coming across each other quite frequently and unnecessarily. The narrative that LJP goes for is very non-linear and quite ballsy. Very often he first shows a scene and goes back to show how different characters arrived at that scene. For a Malayalam film, it must have been quite novel when it came out. It is very chaotic and enjoyably so during the first hour of the film as you are figuring out its characters and storylines. But once you figure it out, it becomes really tiresome and boring and it doesn't help that the heavily caricaturised Tamil storyline takes more of screen time.

Nayakan, despite all its faults, was a good first attempt but you won't be as forgiving for CoG. He seemed to have been wanting to do a lot of things all at once and the result is not always coherent. He was more grounded in Amen, a film I didn't enjoy, which was his first and only commercial success till his masterpiece Angamaly Diaries came out this year. On the whole I've only enjoyed Double Barrel and Angamaly Diaries, last two films in his filmography comprising of 5 films so far. Those are the ones I could watch at the cinemas and I don't know how big a factor that is. Anyway, he seems to have come leaps and bounds as a director and is the most experimental among mainstream Malayalam film directors.

Rating: 2.5/5