The movie madness continues at the 15th Mumbai Film Festival as the MAM team continues to watch films in plenty during the same. Here is a detailed report of the films seen on day 4. (Also check out updates of day 1, day 2 and day 3).
Short Term 12
You can’t go too wrong with films set in correctional institutions. There will be some moment, some scene which will warm your audience’s heart. But the amazing part about Dustin Cretton’s Short Term 12 is that it does not get a single note wrong. You have met them all before, the reticent inmate, the mentally deranged one, the one with a hidden talent and the caretaker with a past of her own. Yet ST12 compares with some of the best of the genre like Awakenings or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr. are perfectly suited for their leading roles. After three stressful days, I was feeling a little tired. ST12 put the life back in me.
The story tries to combine a harmless children’s tale with the issue of Naxalism and makes a mess of both tracks. Oonga is a mischievous little boy who unwittingly ends up getting involved with a couple of army men who are making enquiries in connection with a Naxalite attack. There were a few good moments; Vipin Sharma in particular was funny as the army man with a North Indian accent in Orissa. Nandita Das and Seema Biswas had nothing much to do in supporting roles. Raju Singh as the eponymous lad showed spunk but was done in by bad writing. At the halfway point in the film there was a bizarre stage adaptation of The Ramayan. Nicely done but occupying way too much footage for something that has little to do with the main theme. Overall a weak effort by director Devashish Makhija.
Having got into the hall playing this film on a tip off is one thing and to end up totally enjoying every moment of it is totally another thing. The story is elementary. Two struggling writers, one of them meets a girl whereas the other one sees this as an encroachment into their friendship and work. Kind of like Chashme Buddoor, director Amit Masurkar, who has also done the screenplay, has peppered the film with non-stop gags and insider jokes. There wasn’t a dull moment in the film. What’s more, the end wasn’t a sappy romantic one either but a practical conclusion closer to real life. Easily the best Indian film of the festival (for the MAM author who saw it)…so far.
Tonnerre is a small town in France where a simple story unfolds. Vincent Macaigne plays a musician staying over at his father’s house where he hooks up with a journalist much younger than him. Things are going well, almost too well so a thrilling element has to be on the anvil. The seeds of this twist are planted early on in the film if you follow it carefully. Director Guillaume Brac embellishes it with enough mush in the first half to make the second half stand out in comparison. A nice movie but perhaps not good enough to win the grand prize. A special mention goes to the dog who would have received the Palm Dog award if MFF had its equivalent.
The Voice of the Voiceless
Olga a young deaf and mute woman receives a scholarship from an institute in New York to learn sign language. However she soon realizes all this is a hoax as she is forced to sell ‘I am blind’ trinkets in trains. Since the film focuses on a mute protagonist, the director has very smartly shot it in a traditional style of silent movie using a tragicomic approach. Despite this, the film makes a very powerful impact. The fact that the film is based on a true story, makes it all the more disturbing.
The film makes very smart use of colours and sound to depict the protagonist’s frame of mind. Using bare minimum sound the way a deaf and mute person would hear sounds was a superb idea. Kudos to the sound designer. It was also commendable on part of the director not to show the protagonist as a hapless victim. Rather she is shown as a strong girl who fights the situations very smartly.The way she exacts revenge on one of her inmates will surely make you laugh and root for her.
Janeva Adena as Olga gives a remarkable performance in the lead role. It is hard to believe this is her debut film. Similarly director Maximon Monihan makes an impressive debut. Voice of the voiceless can easily be rated as one of the best films to be screened this year in the festival.
P.S : The film had its world premiere at this year’s Mumbai Film Festival
Kim Yong-gyun’s South Korean film Killer Toon is a horror film with the backdrop of webcomics that maintains its grip throughout the film. After a series of murders are committed that mimic a famous web cartoon series, detective Lee Ki-cheol places the cartoonist Kang Ji-yoon on the list of suspects. But why do the murders happen, is there any connection between the victims, how does the case get solved etc is what the rest of the film is all about. Its good to see fresh crop of ideas being explored in horror films like these and by and large the film does remain engaging. Lee-Si-young shines as the cartoonist and its nice to actually see a good horror film in a film festival. Very rarely do you actual see films of this genre in an important film festival.
Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla
V.K.Prakash’s Malayalam film NOCM featuring the in-form Fahadh Faasil was a default choice as it happened to be the only film during the 12 noon slot at Metro Cinema. Having seen the film already (check out complete review here), there was nothing in particular to look forward to as such from the same. Preman is an aspiring screenwriter who works as a caretaker in a high rise apartment complex in Ernakulam. Unfortunately a lot of residents especially Prabha (Kamalinee Mukherjee) seem to dislike him and one fine day he is severely humiliated as well. While he initially plans to move away from there, the writer in him decides to stay on and use his pen to vent out his feelings and take revenge on all the other people there, especially Prabha. He ends up bringing in a new character Narendran (Fahadh again) and his writing soon starts resulting in chaos. Soon there is a blur between reality and the imaginary and what happens from thereon is what the film is all about. A slightly unconventional film within the commercial boundaries, NOCM is an indicator of Fahadh’s talent and his willingness to experiment with characters.
The Past (Le Passe)
After charming audiences Worldwide with A Separation, Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi returns this year with a French film, The Past (Le Passe). Ahmed an Iranian returns back to Paris after 4 years to complete the divorce proceedings with his wife, Marie. Marie who is now in a relationship with Samir, wants Ahmed to talk to her elder daughter Lucie who seems to be distressed with the entry of Samir into her mother’s life. Pretty soon the characters get drawn into an intricate web of complex relationships, threatening to upset both old and new relationships. While there is a resemblance in terms of the basic theme with A Separation, its very interesting to see how Asghar Farhadi has managed to still keep the film engaging enough and make it look worthwhile. The performances are all noteworthy and Berenice Bejo in fact won the Best Actress Award at Cannes Film Festival this year for her portrayal of Marie. It is heartening to know that a film like this would be getting a theatrical release in India as well shortly.