I actually went to a theater and watched a Malayalam film! I am so proud of myself. Of course, I cheated a little and picked a movie with a title I can actually pronounce without struggling.
So, Kali! It’s an amazing movie. The plot moves in a crazy direction in the second half, so I’m not going to talk about any part of the plot at all because I am too worried about spoiling it. But I am going to talk about overall themes and aesthetics!
There are two overall themes, which sound conflicting on paper, but actually work great! Our hero is struggling with his rage problems, but at the same time, he and his wife and struggling with how to function as a team, how to attack problems like this together without expecting too much of either partner. The whole movie keeps going back and forth between the two themes, finally resolving both of them simultaneously in the last few minutes.
While Dulquer and Sai Pallavi are onscreen for almost the same amount of time, it is really Dulquer’s movie. Which isn’t to say Sai wasn’t wonderful. She was! She really really was! But her role was to be the support and sounding board while Dulquer worked through some stuff. In terms of both their interactions, and the way they functioned in the plot, she was the reactor while he was the actor. And Dulquer really really acted! Both in terms of being an “actor” and in terms of selling every since action of the plot through his character’s decisions.
It looks like the director’s previous movie was also with Dulquer? Maybe I should watch that one, Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi (there’s one of those titles I would be nervous about pronouncing at the ticket counter!), because he collaborated fabulously with him here. Every scene was shot and cut just right to best highlight his performance.
And highlighting his performance also meant highlighting the most important parts of the film. Dulquer’s face and body language reflect every little change in his thoughts and emotions, and it is those thoughts and emotions that are driving the movie (ha! It’s a pun! That will make sense after you watch the film). Even the none Dulquer actors are used perfectly, there are loads of little side glances and half finished conversations that tell you everything you need to know about everyone, from random co-workers to neighbors to relatives, they all feel sketched in and real. Just like the whole world feels real here, and therefore scarier.
Which brings me to the camera work and background music. It’s the real world, but slightly askew, with a minor note of terror running through it. It feels like we are in Dulquer’s head, constantly seeing the world as a danger and and irritant. It’s brilliant! And very unpleasant. Thank goodness there are also a couple of nice love songs to give us a break.