Isn’t it an amazing feeling to fall in love with someone? Those tender moments that you encounter which make you go weak in your knees every time you see your beloved. When hours pass by without hearing from your lover and as you get frantic, looking at your mobile phone again and again for any trace of a missed call, SMS or a WhatsApp message. You do things that you otherwise would never have done before, so what if some of them later on dawn upon you as “painkili” or mushy :). Whatever be the challenge in front of you, be it related to academics, job or anything else, everything pales in significance before your love and your beloved. It’s almost as if life has come to a standstill, and there’s only one active window in front of you. Come on, haven’t you all (or at least most of you) gone through all this? Some of you have even perhaps gone on to get married to the person whom you were in love with, so does the romance continue the same way after the wedding is over?
Some of you may say yes, but then by and large we mainly hear of couples who aren’t too satisfied with each other after the wedding . There are constant complaints from either side saying that it was better off to remain in love and not get married, that the partner doesn’t love him/her like before, that life seems to have changed in a drastic way etc. No I’m not suggesting anything, far from it in fact. But I do know that it’s not uncommon for a couple to lead a life of bliss while being in love, only to go through a different scenario once the initial excitement of getting married is over and as they say “reality sinks in”. Some manage to work their way around the same, some don’t do anything about it and just drift away from each other in time, while some make an effort to set right things. Why am I talking about all this instead of reviewing Sujith Vaassudev‘s James and Alice? Well simple enough, because this is what the film is all about. Cinematographer Sujith has made his transition to direction with this film, a mature relationship tale. So how good is his entry into filmmaking & how effective is the tale is what I set off to find out when I went to watch it over the weekend.
James (Prithviraj) is a talented painter and in love with the rich Alice (Vedhika). Paying no heed to her dad’s (Sai Kumar) warnings of the importance of job security and money in life, Alice walks off with James and they get married, both of them believing strongly in their love. Years pass and James now is a busy ad filmmaker, while Alice is a bank employee and they now have a daughter to add to their happy family. But there’s an obvious twist in the tale, as life unfolds in front of them and as time passes by their love for each other soon starts giving way to ego clashes, resentment and arguments. The kid happens to suffer in the process and neither James nor Alice seem to be able to do anything about it. Just when their marriage appears to be crumbling down a tragedy befalls them, throwing their lives into disarray. What is the tragedy all about and what happens to James and Alice from thereon is what the rest of the film is all about.
Sujith Vaassudev discusses a very relevant tale, something that we all can relate to and there’s nothing that really looks out of place in the story of James and Alice. Dr.S.Janardhanan‘s screenplay makes sure not to take any stand on the topic and makes us once again appreciate the fact that just as you cannot clap with one hand alone, even in a relationship it takes two to tango i.e. the onus is on both the partners to either prevent a strain in the relationship or to bring it back under normalcy after a strain. But then while we get to see the romance before marriage in a quick song and emotional scene that follows it, there is hardly any buildup to their post marriage relationship troubles. Perhaps Sujith wanted us to just get on with the tale and allow the audience to understand that things just went wrong over time for them, but this also robs us of the attachment that the audience would feel to James and Alice, and most importantly to the romance between them.
The film is visually very appealing and no surprises there considering that Sujith is a cinematographer primarily and be it the lush green locations of Idukki or the vibrant streets of Fort Kochi, the images appear very endearing on the big screen. While a tale of a relationship turning sour by itself isn’t anything that’s too novel, then here there is an element of magic realism of sorts in the form of a divine intervention that the story brings into play, as a tool to take the momentum forward. There is nothing essentially wrong in the approach, but then the way Sujith goes about with the narration is quite long winded and exhausting. At a run time of 166 minutes its quite laborious at places and tends to test the patience of the audience to an extent. I am not saying that a shorter duration would have made this a classic, not at all, but it would have certainly made it a lot more palatable for the audience who is keen to watch and support a film like this. Wonder why editor Samjith Mhd failed to point this out to Sujith, or perhaps there’s something more to this angle which is missing.
There are a few scenes which certainly make a lot of impact. Like the moment when James comes to drop Alice and his daughter at her house, and later on when a repeat of the same situation occurs in a different avatar. Also the scene in the court where James and Alice are in front of the counsellor (Sunil Sukhada) where Alice pours open her list of problems while James prefers to maintain a guarded silence. Gopi Sunder‘s music is good but considering his recent good form the songs of James and Alice aren’t chartbuster material as such. Of the supporting cast Saikumar is wonderful as he mostly is and his limited interactions with Prithviraj are a treat to watch. Sudheer Karamana, Kishor Satya and Vijayaraghavan get noticed though they have nothing much to do as such. Sijoy Varghese as a messenger of God of sorts is a good choice though it is a surprise to his voice being dubbed by Anoop Menon. Manju Pillai as Advocate Rohini and Parvathy Nair as Nandini, a colleague of James do make an impact, appearing as characters who understand Alice and James respectively.
Prithviraj and Vedhika make a good pair and they carry off the two different dimensions to their characters quite effectively. A special mention also to the costume designer and stylist for the work on Prithviraj and Vedhika. Prithviraj as the artist at heart and a reluctant ad filmmaker is charming no doubt, by now we know that portraying a character with a lot of emotional involvement comes to him very naturally. He is at ease playing the husband who is too busy in his own World to notice his family life crumbling around him. Vedhika is indeed more than a good match for Prithviraj and she carries out the emotional scenes with gusto, leaving a major impact indeed. With James and Alice Sujith makes a transition to direction with an attempt that is satisfactory to an extent, if only he had a lot more control over his narrative then it could have been a far more impactful debut indeed. Ultimately James and Alice is watchable thanks to the lead pair and the relevance of the story, nothing beyond that.