Category Archives: Drama

The Salesman Review

The Salesman Review – The Salesman is an Iranian drama released in 2016. The couple Emad and Rana move into a new apartment after their current apartment building collapses. Some unforeseen events happen that change their lives forever.

The movie has won the Academy Award for foreign film category for 2016. Director Asghar Farhadi creates a very emotional drama drawing parallels to the “Death of the Salesman” play by Arthur Miller which the couple is enacting in the theater.  The screenplay keeps you guessing until the end. The movie is quite engaging and there is never a dull moment. The climax as it unfolds explores the struggle between anger and forgiveness.

Shahab Hosseini’s performance is a standout in the entire drama. In particular, the way he has performed during the climax portion is impeccable. His performance is ably supported by Taraneh Alidoosti. Her looks convey more powerful emotions. Unlike some run of the mill thrillers where an action is thrilling here the way the characters react to a particular situation causes the thrill.

After such a powerful climax I felt bit hanging in the ending as it was open ended. I couldn’t immediately connect the interpretation that the director wanted us to have. However only later I got the emotional conflict portion between anger and forgiveness. You might be able to draw a different interpretation. If you do share it in the comments section. Although this is a well-made movie, I wasn’t sure if this is path breaking to win an academy award compared to the other nominations we had in that category.

High Points: A very engaging screenplay, The performance of the lead actors, the powerful climax and the conflict drawn between anger and forgiveness.

Low Points: If you haven’t read or watched the play “Death of a Salesman” you would find it hard to understand the parallels. The ending leaves you hanging for you to decide the conclusion.

Overall The Salesman is an excellent thriller drama and stands apart from the run of the mill thrillers. You would enjoy this more if you have watched the play by Arthur Miller. The climax being open ended may not connect with everyone.

Worth a Watch

 

Paulina Review

Paulina Review – Paulina is a Spanish drama released in 2015.  A young woman leaves a promising career as a lawyer in Buenos Aires to go back to her suburban hometown and teach in a high school. In a sudden turn of events, she becomes a gang rape victim. Amidst of disapproval from the people she still returns back to teach in the same school.

The movie is inspired by the 1960 movie La patota. I had got to watch this in Bangalore International Film Festival 2017. The movie deals with the subject of a rape victim from a point of view of the victim. The movie explores the point of view which usually is ignored by many movies dealing with the same subject. The movie is characterized by some lengthy shots. It also repeats the same scene in from a different point of view one of the lead character and the other of the different characters in the movie. This has effectively played into the treatment of the plot.

Dolores Fonzi has performed the role of Paulina very well. The way she copes with the situation and stubborn to do what she wants to do is brilliant. The lengthy shot of her walk along with the camera is so impactful.

Many of you may not be able to understand Paulina much like her father or her boyfriend. You dwell more into what is moral and what is the right thing to be done for greater good. She doesn’t speak of morals. She does not harm herself, does not go after to avenge the criminal, does not forgive him. Instead, she wants to find out who he is, wants to talk to him, continue doing what she had been doing in her village. She is a character that is always wanting to live a normal life. When she is faced with some tough questions by her father, boyfriend, and her colleague, she has a blank stare as the answer she wants to give them is beyond words.

High Points: Long shots to increase the intensity of the drama, the two perspective shots from her front and back. The front conveying her perspective and back conveying others is a brilliant stroke.

Low Points: This is not a feel-good tale, it is going to hurt your emotions and in a way make you feel guilty. There is no logic to the solution.

Overall Paulina is a high intense drama that would hit you hard. Still, you can’t forget those look in her eyes questioning the behavior of the society. The society thinks that her life has changed forever after the incident, but she thinks she still has the right to lead a normal life. The contrast is brilliantly portrayed.

Worth a Watch

Kaatru Veliyidai Review

Kaatru Veliyidai Review – Kaatru Veliyidai is a Tamil romantic drama released in 2017. VC an Indian Air Force fighter pilot is captured by Pakistani army as a war prisoner during the Kargil war, his hope to meet Leela once more keeps him alive.

Director Maniratnam creates a yet another gem out of his “Akshaya Patra” (inexhaustible vessel) of love. He still has some much more stories to tell. In Kaatru Veliyidai, he deals with yet another tale of romance the core conflict being male chauvinism. The canvas for the tale he has chosen is quite interesting. It is a love between an Air Force fighter pilot and a doctor. The swag of a pilot naturally makes the male chauvinist behavior very believable. I will not dwell more on the story and spoil any fun for you.

Ravi Varman’s cinematography is a great plus. The entire movie is a visual treat. The breathtaking view of the Himalayan mountain range makes it even richer. I couldn’t take the eyes from the screen. Extreme close up shots, communicating with eyes, a lesser number of dialogues, a slow movement of the scene to build up the drama all makes it very appealing. I love drama in the movies, off late watching the treatment of directors like Hari, KV Anand and many other directors I have led to believe that slow moving shots, communication through silence all have become old fashioned. But this vintage magic of Mani sir is still magical. Those short and sweet dialogues still evoke the emotions in you. Those silent visuals still teleport you.

The most striking performance is from Aditi Rao Hydari. She is not only eye candy but her eyes speak a lot. The scene in which she looks into the mirror and questions herself, she has performed so well. Karthi’s performance is also good. At times you feel he goes overboard with his performance but all this works well to establish his male chauvinist attitude. RJ Balaji for a change has acted in a mellowed down manner. He could make you laugh even with serious dialogues without trying too hard with mixing Tamil and English.

The music and background score of AR Rahman is very apt for the visuals. Mani sir has re-used some of the iconic romance scenes from his earlier movies shamelessly. And we too would enjoy these shamelessly as they still stay fresh after so many years.

High Points: The treatment of the core conflict of love, Breathtaking visuals, slow drama and communication through silence, Aditi’s performance are all high points.

Low Points: If you don’t like silence in movies or slow drama you might feel a bit restless.

Overall I would say Vintage Mani Sir is back. He still has a lot of love (stories) left in him. If you love movies like Mouna Raagam, Alaipayuthey, Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya, you would love this one too.

Must Watch

 

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove – A Man Called Ove is a Swedish comedy-drama released in 2015. This is based on the book by Fredrik Backman. 59-year-old Ove decides to end his life and join his late wife in the other world. But ending his life doesn’t seem so easy.

This is yet another gem of a movie which I was able to see at Bangalore International Film Festival 2017. The movie is nominated for the Academy awards 2016 under the foreign language films and best hair makeup and styling category. I haven’t read the book yet. The movie was as enjoyable like reading a book. The simplicity of the tale and the reaction of the characters to the day to day problem is a great strength to the movie. There are no larger than life incidents or characters.

Rolf Lassgård’s performance as Ove is the best part of the movie. The other characters in the movies are also sketched beautifully. Director Hannes Holm has maintained the naivety of the tale in the movie as well.  This makes it a very pleasant watch. The movie has good humor that arises out of the characters, situation and the interaction between them. The portions where Ove’s obsession for Volvo cars is involved were hilarious.

High Points: Simple story line, the innocence of the tale is a strong point, Performance of Rolf Lassgård is a big strength for the movie, The romance sequence between husband and wife is picturized well. The humor in the screenplay works very well to keep the audience engaged throughout.

Low Points: For the love of Ove you would tend to ignore any low points.

Overall the movie appears to be a sincere attempt in getting the book to real life. Combined with great visuals and stunning performances the movie is a pleasant watch.

Must Watch

After the Storm Review

After the Storm Review – After the Storm is a Japanese drama film released in 2016. Ryota, a prize-winning author, and a private detective wastes money and cannot make ends meet to pay for his child support. He gets to spend a night together with his family on a stormy night, the night brings in a change in him.

I got to watch this one in Bangalore International Film Festival.  The movie very beautifully narrates the events that happen in the between the members of the family. The screenplay spends some time to establish the characters, their habits and the problems in life. It gets very intense once it has all of them inside the house during a storm. The movie touches upon many things including the addiction to gambling, self-centered parenting, kids craving for love from the parents. The memories of Ryota’s childhood brings back a new perspective into their life.

Kirin Kiki has performed very well as Ryota’s mom and she steals the show. I had liked her performance in An and I could see the same level of intensity in this role too.  Hiroshe Abe has also performed well. His transformation from a gambling addict has been portrayed well. Amidst of all the chaos, there is still a lot of humor that will make you laugh.

High Points: Very strong plot is a strength backed by the performance of Kirin Kiki and Hiroshe Abe. The night the family spends at home is a high point.

Low Points: The first half seems a little drag as the movie establishes the lead characters.

Overall After the storm is a movie that will touch your heart and bring in new reflections over life. You can watch it for the strong performances of the lead characters and the sweet message it carries.

Worth a Watch

Dangal Review

Dangal Review – Dangal is a Hindi sports biopic released in 2016. The movie is based on the real-life story of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat on how he had coached his daughters to compete and win in the international arena.

In the past few years, there has been some successful sports biopic released in India.  Dangal not only joins the list but sets a new benchmark. Aamir Khan steals the show by playing the role of the wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat. He breaks all the stereotypes and peer pressure of making a movie that idolizes a hero with mass elements. As the real life hero he plays, he puts his daughters in front in the movie. There is also a scene in which he loses a wrestling match with his daughter. A scene that many superstars would dread to do in the current scenario. Also, his younger self with a fit avatar just appears for a couple of minutes in the entire movie.

The first half of the movie has been created with absolute creativity. Every frame has been crafted beautifully and has a great cinematic value. The opening sequence itself will hook you on to the lead protagonist. The screenplay has been made interesting with a careful mixture of emotions and humor. The use of Aamir’s nephew to move the screenplay through narration adds an interesting dimension to the movie and helps in introducing the main protagonist and his daughters very well.

The second half is like any other sports biopic with more focus on wrestling matches and has been executed very well.

High Points: Aamir’s performance, The opening sequence,  the first half of the movie where the girls get trained, their ways to avoid training going futile, the transformation they go through to fight male wrestlers. Interesting screenplay. Songs and the way they have been picturised. Direction by Nitesh Tiwari. Among everything is how the stereotype of a male-oriented subject has been broken.

Low Points: There are no much low points in the movie, the emotional melodrama in the climax could have been kept low. 

I was bit let down after watching Sultan for the way it had typecasted women to sacrifice life for her man’s dreams. Dangal has completely removed it by breaking the stereotypes. Kudos to Nitesh Tiwari and team for belief in the script and executing with perfection. Probably the best sign off from Disney pictures in India.

Overall Dangal is a movie that will inspire you and nail the importance of sports and women empowerment. Go and watch it in the theaters with your family.

Must Watch

Aandavan Kattalai Review

Aandavan Kattalai Review – Aandavan Kattalai is a Tamil satirical film released in 2016. A young man named Gandhi runs away from his village and meets a broker to help him go to London to work.  However, his visa gets rejected. Was Gandhi able to go to London? This forms the rest of the plot.

Director Manikandan once again has portrayed desperation of a common man so beautifully in Aandavan Kattalai. The script is full of satire. It not only makes you laugh but has a very strong statement against middle-men. The characters of Gandhi, his friend Muthu Pandi and news reporter Karmegha Kuzhali has been sketched very well. In particular, the first 40 minutes of the movie belongs to Yogi Babu playing Muthu Pandi role. His witty dialogues are a rib tickler. Post that there is a little bit of dullness in the script which again picks up once Gandhi meets Karmegha Kuzhali. The absence of Yogi Babu is filled by Vinodhini Vaidyanathan playing the role of a Junior lawyer.  The court scenes are hilarious.

The biggest strength of the movie is the script. Manikandan has touched upon many social issues surrounding middle-men. Not just the travel agent he also portrays a house broker who has left the job of a policeman in order to earn more money. Apart from this, he has also touched upon the issues of bachelor’s not getting a house, Srilankan Tamil’s,  loopholes in the court proceedings and so on.

High Points: The script, Yogi Babu’s comedy, Vijay Sethupathi, Rithika and Yogi Babu’s characterization, the social message to avoid middle-men.

Low Points: There are portions in between where the story gets a little bit dull but it picks up quickly.

Overall this comes as a complete package that will make you laugh and also think. A movie that you would enjoy watching with your family.

Worth a Watch