Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Elle (2016)

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Writers: David Birke, Philippe Djian
DOP: Stéphane Fontaine
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Laffite, Anne Consigny
Language: French

A successful businesswoman gets caught up in a game of cat and mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who had raped her.

I had recently seen Huppert in 'Things to Come' and her initial matter-of-fact reaction to the rape, which is the first scene of the film, is quite similar to how she is in Mia-Hansen Løve's film. Even though I'm familiar with Paul Verhoeven's works like 'Basic Instinct' and 'Turkish Delight', I was watching it more as a normal revenge drama. It didn't turn out to be that way and is more close to 'Piano Teacher' than '22FK'. In contrast to Piano Teacher, Isabelle Huppert's character is much more empowered in this and she had described it as a post-feminist film. I can see where she is coming from.

There are many characters in it and all of them have significant storylines in relation to the main character. We learn that the businesswoman had a very dark past and she had built her career getting over that. Even though we root for her, she is not in anyway likeable as she is quite petty and cruel to almost everyone. It is as if the rape have her even more license to be her true self.

Verhoeven pursues a Catholic church angle to one of the subplots as well, which I don't think is in the Philippe Djian's novel from which it is adapted. Verhoeven was planning to set the film in USA due to which he had hired David Birke, an American screenwriter. But they could not get it made there due to obvious reasons and decided to make it in French, his first one in this language. Huppert was the obvious choice as she had been pursuing this role even before Verhoeven got attached to it. I can't imagine any other actor playing this role and film would be very inferior without her presence. It is provocative, unpredictable and a tremendous watch, but not for everyone obviously.

Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Personal Shopper (2016)

Director: Oliver Assayas
Writer: Oliver Assayas
DOP: Yorick Le Saux
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz
Language: English, French

I watched this film without seeing its trailer or even reading an IMDB synopsis of it. It is best if you do the same as well. Don't read further if you are planning to watch it.

A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.

Kristen Stewart is one of the most interesting actors among the young ones and both her and Robert Pattinson have been in some very interesting films since their stint with the Twilight franchise ended. She should have won some awards for her role in Oliver Assayas' previous film 'Clouds of Sils Maria'. In it she played the role of an assistant to a film actress and in this film she plays the role of a personal shopper for a bitchy fashion model, whom we don't see much in the film. I am not very well versed with the horror genre and so when they talk about medium and shit like that, I am a bit clueless. She and her twin-brother are mediums and they mean in the sense that they could feel the presence of spirits and converse with them. The film takes it sweet time to reveal the details and I love this treatment as there aren't many severely expository scenes. I was totally freaked out by the first night scene itself. I think it can be best described as an arty indie kind of ghost film which ends up as a mystery thriller of sorts. There aren't many dialogues and a large portion of the film is through her phone where she is getting texts from an unknown number. It is not that hard to figure out who is texting her even though she is thinking it is a supernatural presence as she is in the look out for her brother's spirit. It is almost 100% told from the perspective of Kristen Stewart's character and she totally carries the film through.

The director chooses not to explain almost anything and we have to figure out on our own. The ending will remind you of 'Sixth Sense' even though it doesn't make much sense. There is a scene towards the end where we see a man ghost walking past in the background out of focus and many viewers would miss it. I don't know if there are other hidden Easter eggs left by the director throughout the film. Oliver Assayas won the best director award at Cannes for this film and it was booed off by the critics during its premier there, which generally means it probably is very good.

Rating: 5/5 

Monday, May 29, 2017

L'Avenir (Things to Come) (2016)

Director: Mia Hansen-Love
Writer: Mia Hansen-Love
DOP: Denis Lenoir
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Andre Marcon, Roman Kolinka
Language: French

A philosophy teacher (Isabelle Huppert) soldiers through the death of her mother, getting fired from her job, and dealing with a husband who is cheating on her.

Most of the film industries of the World can be defined by the iconic actors that they produce and French film industry must be the only one where these iconic positions are held by the female gender. Am talking about the duo of Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Huppert. Some might point out Vincent Cassel but his popularity is to do more with his work in Hollywood films rather than the French ones even though he has been in many good ones in his his native language as well. I can't really choose between the two but  I have seen Binoche appearing in films directed by different directors while most of the Huppert films that I have seen have been directed by Michael Haneke who is probably the greatest director that is currently going.

Mia Hansen-Love's breakout film, Eden, was an excellent one that was based mostly of her brother's career as a DJ. 'Things to Come' is also another solid outing. While the synopsis suggests that it is probably going to be a sob story, it is anything but. Huppert takes the various setbacks in her life in her stride and is constantly moving forward. With her mother's death, her divorce and her teenage kids moving out of the house, she finds herself alone all of a sudden even though it affords her a great deal of freedom. She is also taken aback by the way her favorite student sees her as not much different from the bourgeoisie that he despises. Like most French films, nothing much happens in terms of plot development but is a tremendous watch. Like the lead character in it, the camera is always on the move and is not bogged down by the events.  One would think that with her being a Philosophy teacher, there would be a great deal of Philosophy being talked about. Director does not take it as a license for it being a Philosophy talk like how Richard Linklater's 'Before Trilogy' was (Am a great fan of those as well). Things to Come is a great watch with a great central performance from Huppert in a role that is not very intense like 'Piano Teacher' was.

Rating: 4/5 

Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Director: Cate Shortland
Writers: Shaun Grant, Melanie Joosten
DOP: Germain McMicking
Cast: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt
Language: English, German

A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship, when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave.

Film is an adaptation of a novel with the same name by Melanie Joosten and it is an Australian-German co-production. As the name indicates, it is a riff on the Stockholm syndrome and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that she is going to be a hostage in their relationship. The film is not told entirely from the perspective of the lady and there is a lot of German speaking as the guy goes about his daily business as a teacher. She makes several attempts to escape but it is not entirely about how she is going to manage to do that. We see her coping with her lack of freedom and how she changes gradually over the course of the film, physically and emotionally. We are not entirely sure about the motivation of the guy but we learn that he was in the Eastern part of Berlin before the collapse of the wall and his mother had defected to the other side. He still has affinity towards the GDR (East Germany) and resents his mother for defecting. The whole hostage taking relationship and locking away can be seen as an allegory of how things were under East Germany for its citizens.

I am generally not a fan of cities as the ones I have been generally exposed to have been the Indian ones. A city that is still developing is a hell-like place to be in but on the other hand an already developed one can be great to live in because of the culture and various options that you have. I have been outside Indian once and it was Germany that I visited. Berlin is a place that will leave you absolutely awe-struck and all I spent there was just about 5 hours. The lady in the film don't mange to get to see what all I saw in those 5 hours as she was locked up pretty sharpish. Berlin Syndrome is a very good watch and can be seen as a hostage drama rather than as a horror thriller.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, May 28, 2017

La isla mínima (Marshland) (2014)

Director: Alberto Rodriguez
Writers: Alberto Rodriguez, Rafael Cobos
DOP: Alex Catalan
Cast: Raul Arevalo, Javier Guiterrez, Nerea Barros
Language: Spanish

In the Marshland a serial killer is on the loose. Two homicide detectives who appear to be poles apart must settle their differences and bring the murderer to justice before more young women lose their lives.

Film is set in 1980 Andalusia, Spain as it is transitioning to a democracy after the end of Franco's regime. The older detective is the product of the previous regime while the younger one is from the present times with little respect for authority. The film has been compared with first season of True Detective and you can see that the comparison is not only coming because of the surreal marshy settings but also because of the dynamics between the two leads. To add to the similarities, it also ends with some loose ends not tied up together. The village in which the killings took place and the local police are a bit antagonistic towards the detectives and they are not very forthcoming in terms of divulging what they know. The film is not really about the plot or how ingenious their solving of crime is but rather about the atmosphere and mood it conveys.

It is a great watch overall with excellent performances from the two lead actors. The color tone and camera angles are such that you won't get the full glory of its cinematography on a small screen but you still can feel that it was very well done. Several of Sergio Leone's Western classics were set in Andalusia and you do get a feel of that even though the location is marshy and not a desert. It is a pretty cool watch.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, May 22, 2017

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: John Hodge, Irvine Welsh
DOP: Anthony Dod Mantle
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremmer, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller

After 20 years abroad, Mark Renton returns to Scotland and reunites with his old friends Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie.

First things first, almost every frame in this film is fucking gorgeous. More often than not a film which comes as a sequel this years apart will be looking at how the characters have changed over the years. In T2 we find out that nothing much has changed and the film has almost the same plot as the first outing. Many had problems with this but I enjoyed it thoroughly. All the major characters who survived T1 makes an appearance. We approved of Renton betraying his friends and running away with the money at the end of T1 and by the end of T2 we realise that money is not a big difference for them at this point of their lives.

Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor had a falling out after the former cast Leonardo for 'The Beach'. The feud took a lot of time to get resolved and finally we got the Trainspotting sequel that we were waiting for. Am not sure whether Irvine Welsh's 'Porno' has same characters as Trainspotting because I read somewhere that this film placed the characters from Trainspotting in Porno rather than it being a straight adaptation.  Many memory flashes from the first film is used and the soundtrack is kick-ass as expected. There are some very convenient plot developments but you forgive that because it still is a riot.

"'Choose life'. 'Choose life' was a well meaning slogan from a 1980's anti-drug campaign and we used to add things to it, so I might say for example, choose... designer lingerie, in the vain hope of kicking some life back into a dead relationship. Choose handbags, choose high-heeled shoes, cashmere and silk, to make yourself feel what passes for happy. Choose an iPhone made in China by a woman who jumped out of a window and stick it in the pocket of your jacket fresh from a South-Asian Firetrap. Choose Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and a thousand others ways to spew your bile across people you've never met. Choose updating your profile, tell the world what you had for breakfast and hope that someone, somewhere cares. Choose looking up old flames, desperate to believe that you don't look as bad as they do. Choose live-blogging, from your first wank 'til your last breath; human interaction reduced to nothing more than data. Choose ten things you never knew about celebrities who've had surgery. Choose screaming about abortion. Choose rape jokes, slut-shaming, revenge porn and an endless tide of depressing misogyny. Choose 9/11 never happened, and if it did, it was the Jews. Choose a zero-hour contract and a two-hour journey to work. And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and maybe tell yourself that it's better that they never happened. And then sit back and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody's fucking kitchen. Choose unfulfilled promise and wishing you'd done it all differently. Choose never learning from your own mistakes. Choose watching history repeat itself. Choose the slow reconciliation towards what you can get, rather than what you always hoped for. Settle for less and keep a brave face on it. Choose disappointment and choose losing the ones you love, then as they fall from view, a piece of you dies with them until you can see that one day in the future, piece by piece, they will all be gone and there'll be nothing left of you to call alive or dead. Choose your future, Veronika. Choose life."

Rating: 4.5/5

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Toni Erdmann (2016)

Director: Maren Are
Writer: Maren Ade
DOP: Patrick Orth
Cast: Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller
Language: German

A practical joking father tries to reconnect with his hard working daughter by creating an outrageous alter-ego and posing as her CEO's life coach.

I went into the film with knowledge that it is a comedy film and, hate to bring in a stereotype, but German films are not known for their comedy. The recent Hitler film 'Look who's back' ended up as very poignant towards the end even though it was supposed to be a laugh out loud comedy film. Toni Erdmann is is in the category of cringe comedy like the TV series 'The Office'. The drama is on an equal footing with the comedy here or even more prominent and it is a slow burner. The film starts from the perspective of the father but as it progresses we realize that it is the story of his careerist daughter who is leading a sad lonely life in Bucharest (Or is it Budapest). She is a consultant who is primarily in the business of advocating outsourcing and retrenchment of workforce. She calls her father a man living in the 70s with a green agenda. In the beginning of the film, we find Toni to  be very intrusive and the daughter puts up with it but as his behavior becomes even more outrageous she starts losing her shit. But by the end she kind of accepts him as the pain of her sad lonely life takes over and she begins to let go a bit. There is a sequence of her singing in the film and it is the kind that you watch with hands partially covering your face.

It is a great watch overall but is not recommended for everyone. Cringe comedy can be a hard watch for many especially if it is as dark like this. The film is almost three hours long. Toni's character is loosely based on director's own father. The film was nominated for academy awards in the best foreign film category and also was in the running for Palme d'Or at Cannes.

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, May 20, 2017

ഗോദ (Godha) (2017)

Director: Basil Joseph
Writer: Rakesh Mantodi
DOP: Vishnu Sarma
Cast: Wamiqa Gabbi, Tovino Thomas, Renji Panicker, Aju Varghese
Language: Malayalam

The film is set in a fictional Kerala village (Looks more like TN though) where the old generation and new generation are at loggerheads with each other over the usage of a play-ground. The old dudes want it to be used as a wrestling arena and is led by their captain (Renji Panicker) who is also a strict father to Anjaneya Das (Tovino Thomas) who is in the latter camp which wants the ground to be used for playing cricket. Captain forces his son to leave for Punjab to join an M-Tech course and there the son meets a wannabe wrestler (Wamiqa Gabbi) who is forced by her family to stop pursuing it.

Am not a fan of Basil Joseph's debut hit 'Kunjiramayanam' and I couldn't get past forty minutes of it. I found the humour in it to be too spoon-fed and the pacing not right at all. What made me watch Godha first day itself was the presence of very promising Tovino Thomas and the involvement of E4E, a very dependable production banner in Malayalam. Godha didn't disappoint at all. The humour in it works very well and it should be seen as a fun comedy film with Wrestling as the background rather than a hardcore sports drama film. It does go the clichéd sports drama route in its last act which is the weakest part of the film. A weak last act is becoming a pattern for E4E films with both Guppy and Ezra guilty of it.

The star of the film is undoubtedly Wamiqa Gabbi who plays the role of the Punjabi lass. Film is quite feministic in its take and doesn't compromise the female lead character for some cheap applause for its male lead. Renji Panicker is playing against type which is a relief as his Mr Cool new-gen father roles have become quite clichéd. Performances from all concerned are excellent with Aju Varghese also playing a prominent role among the friend circle. There is a sequence in Punjab which trolls the beef politics of our current times but it looks a bit tacked on as I don't think Sikhs are that passionate about Gau-matas. There is also the clichéd introduction to Punjab using a Punjabi wedding, which to be fair is gorgeously shot. The conversation portion during the wedding party is one of film's high points.

E4E films are guaranteed to be technically marvelous and Godha is no different. Shaan Rahman's music and background score adds so much to the film and please do try to catch it in the best possible screen with Dolby Atmos as it demands it to be seen that way.  At 2 hours, it is cut to right length even though interval point is quite lopsided with first half being significantly shorter. Overall, it is a very good watch with a weak last act stopping it from being great.

Rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Get Out (2017)

Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
DOP: Toby Oliver
Cast: Daniel Caluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener

A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend's family estate. He is little uncomfortable because his girlfriend hasn't informed her parents that her current boyfriend is black. But she assures him that they are not racist and are super-liberal and would've voted for Obama a third time. Yeah, right. Things get a bit diabolical there.

Film is very relevant for its time where people are questioning the idea of post-racial America. It is not the racism of regular redneck Americans that is being scrutinized but that of the liberal elite types. That said, it is not political in the serious award bait kind of way and is more of a genre film with the genre being horror-comedy. The central situation is a black guy attending a party full of white guys with only the servants being the other black presence. The debutante director, who made his name as a comedian, could go the places that he did go because of it being a comedy film under the veneer of horror.

Film is produced by Blumhouse, founded by Jason Blum, that had also backed 'Split'. They are known for making low-budget horror films which tend to do very well at box office with Paranormal Activity being one of their earlier features. Get Out was made with a meagre budget of $5 million and went on to gross over two hundred million. It is a great watch overall with an excellent central performance from Daniel Caluuya who you might remember from Sicario. One film that you could compare it with is Hot Fuzz but with more full-on horror.

Rating: 4.5/5

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Director: Mel Gibson
Writers: Robert Schenkkan, Andrew Knight
DOP: Simon Duggan
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving, Sam Worthington, Teresa Palmer

WW2 American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who served during the battle of Okinawa, has vowed to never take a weapon and kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the medal of honor without firing a shot.

His choice of non-violence is due to religious reasons as a Seventh Day Adventist but he feels compelled to join the war effort as everyone around him is doing so. The first part of the film deals with his family background and his cheesy romance with a nurse from the military hospital. He joins the army but is faced with tremendous pressure to quit due to his refusal to pick up a rifle to do rifle training. He wears an extremely smug look that we are used to from evangelical folks and you feel like punching him in the face the same way his colleagues also do. He manages to pass the training with the help of a religious exception and has to assist his unit in taking over the 'Hacksaw Ridge' which is a very difficult target to achieve for the Americans.

Film is unique in the sense that it is told from the perspective of a medic which we are not very used to in war films. One which did do this before was the Band of Brothers episode 'Bastogne', which is also told from the perspective of a medic, and is incidentally my favorite episode of the series. The cheesiness of the first half of the film makes a weird sense by the end as the second half is just quite brutal warfare. It is a great watch overall with some great war scenes that can quite match Saving Private Ryan's first twenty minutes for intensity. The budget for the film was only $40 million and it looks much higher than that. Vince Vaughn is very good in his role as the sergeant and Hugo Weaving is great as the alcoholic ex-army man dad who doesn't want his sons to join the army. Many still cite Brave-Heart as Mel Gibson's best film and I haven't seen that one to make a comparison. The only other one I have seen of his is 'Passion of Christ', which I watched with my friends at the cinemas going to the next town, and I still can't figure out for the life of me why I did that. I am not generally a fan of actors becoming directors and find their efforts quite underwhelming. Hacksaw Ridge is certainly an exception.

Rating: 4/5  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Dheepan (2015)

Director: Jacques Audiard
Writers: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain, Noé Debré
DOP: Eponine Momenceau
Cast: Antonythasan Jesuthasan, Kalieswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby
Languages: Tamil, French

Dheepan is a Srilankan Tamil warrior who flees to France and ends up working as a caretaker of flats outside Paris. Dheepan is not his real name and he had fled Srilanka with a lady and a girl posing as the deceased Dheepan family so that they could use their passports.

Film doesn't delve deep into the nuances of LTTE conflict in Srilanka as it anyway assumes the French audience doesn't know much about it and needn't be given too much details. The atrocities committed by the Government forces during the last days of the conflict did make Worldwide headlines. All these kinds of ethnic conflicts do have a universal language. The film did come out a time when the refugee crisis in Europe was making headlines and it earned Audiard a Palme d'Or at Cannes.

The apartment projects that Dheepan is working in is a Banlieue like setup and largely occupied by other non-first generation migrants. It is also beset with first-world problems like drug related gang wars. Same time Dheepan is also dealing with the fake family that he now has and his fake wife is reluctant to invest much into it. It is an engrossing watch from the get go and is difficult to describe the tone of the film. It basically is about how Dheepan and his 'family' integrates into the French society even though at its margins. People might find problems with how it ended as some have interpreted it as Audiard juxtaposing civil war in Srilanka with the gang wars in Europe. I saw it more as him showing the latter very much as a first world problem rather than equating both of their scales.

PS: It was indeed very strange to see a Tamil language film set in France.

Rating: 4/5

Train to Busan (부산행) (2016)

Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Writer: Park Joo-suk
DOP: Lee Hyung-deok
Cast: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi
Language: Korean

The film takes place in a train to Busan as a Zombie apocalypse breaks out in Korea which threatens the safety of the passengers. Most of the country is infected and it is not like getting out of the train will solve things.

The story is told mainly from the perspective of a father-daughter duo who are traveling to meet the mother, the other half of the divorced couple. Father doesn't have much time for his daughter as he is a busy hedge fund manager and advocates selfishness. Daughter is more influenced by her mother and is the do-good type. The situation they are in forces the father to be a hero as he teams up with other characters to survive it.

The film is really well-made on the technical fronts and the zombies in it are not the sleepy slow types but are quite rabid. Film is quite clichéd in terms of story progression regarding who gets killed and the social commentary that it is trying to make with the background and behaviour of its characters. But I do think they are knowingly embracing the clichés and so it is not that problematic. East Asian films are never known for subtlety once you exclude Wong Kar-Wai anyway.

Train to Busan got premiered at Cannes in the midnight screenings section but I would categorise it more as a thriller than horror. It was a blockbuster in South Korea and managed to gross close to $90 million worldwide. Some have termed it as a better version of World War Z but I haven't seen WWZ. WWZ-2 is supposed to be in the making with David Fincher at the helm.

Rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Captain Fantastic (2016)

Director: Matt Ross
Writer: Matt Ross
DOP: Stephane Fontaine
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler

In the forests of Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the World, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

It is one of those films which has a very interesting premise which keeps you very much engaged during the initial parts of the film but kind of peters out a little bit towards the end once the novelty starts wearing off. I was very much reminded of the film 'Frank' not just because of the similarity in the color tone used. In one sequence from the film, the father asks his daughter to give her interpretation of the book she is reading, which apparently was Nabokov's 'Lolita'. She explains that she is conflicted about her attitude towards the protagonist Humbert as she is both repulsed by him as well as have empathy towards him. That is pretty much how the audience is supposed to feel towards Viggo Mortensen's character in the film as many of the things that he is doing with his kids can be perceived as child abuse while the initial half of the film have us appreciating their lifestyle. He is challenged during the second half of the film by his sister and his father-in-law. George Mackay, playing the eldest son, is excellent in his role with the character conflicted about whether to join any of the Ivy League colleges to which he has got admissions to. But it is the younger son who calls bullshit on their father's ways of doing things.

It is overall a very fun watch with many laugh out loud moments as well as some contemplative ones. It is not as good as what critics have made out to be but still a very good watch. Another film that I was reminded of was Yorgos Lanthimos' 'Dogtooth' even though the treatment and its philosophy is totally different as Captain Fantastic is totally honest to his kids about the ways of the world. One problematic aspect I had with the film was the transition of Viggo Mortensen's character from what seems to be quite a wise guy to a caricatured version of a hippie leftist as the film progresses.  I was not totally convinced by it. Anything Viggo Mortensen is in these days is a recommended watch as he has been a champion of small indie films after his early success with the big budget TLoTR trilogy.

PS: When you image search 'Captain Fantastic' in Google, Steven Gerrard turns up among the top results. Another fun fact is that Matt Ross, the writer-director of the film, is the Gavin Belson from 'Silicon Valley'.

Rating: 3.5/5

Friday, May 5, 2017

CiA: Comrade in America (2017)

Director: Amal Neerad
Writer: Shibin Francis
DOP: Renadive
Cast: Dulquer Salman, Siddique, Dileesh Pothan, Soubin Shahir
Language: Malayalam

Aji (Dulquer Salman) is a Pala Communist, a rare breed, born to a rich Kerala Congress dad (Siddique). He falls in love with a US NRI girl who did her graduation in Kerala. One fine day, she goes back to US without warning and her marriage is fixed. Aji doesn't have enough time to get a valid visa and has to take other extreme measures to get to USA.

The film begins with birthday wishes to Karl Marx and thanking credits for Jay Z and Kanye West. It is the third film to come out in Malayalam in the Communist genre and I haven't seen the other two. It doesn't take itself too seriously and is told with a consistent humour track. First half of the film is set in Kerala and the latter half abroad. The premise of the film, which sounds very clichéd, is nevertheless interesting due to the exotic nature of its settings but is difficult to execute well due to obvious constraints of budget and language. They have managed to execute it well enough to make it a decent watch overall. First half of the film is better though but the Malayalee men's victim-hood psyche will let them enjoy the ending as well as the protagonist takes one for the team in a dignified manner.

Interestingly enough, the KM Mani character in the film comes with Oommen Chandi's hairdo and recent events in Kerala politics makes it a curious take. Like all Amal Neerad films, it is strong on the technical front even though the drone fetishness is becoming tiresome. There is a pretty cool reference to Big B, which remains by far the director's best film till date, and a cheeky dig at Mohanlal's obnoxious dialogue from Raavanaprabhu. The humour track in the film works quite well and it should be a decent one-time watch at the cinemas.

Rating: 2.5/5