wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
In spite of the fact that the film often seems to have far too many characters for its own good, Friday is a film that is completely worth a watch in the theatre because of several little stories and the performances. Debutante Lijin Jose makes a bright start with this daring thriller.Read more
Boasting of a large ensemble cast and more characters than are absolutely necessary, debutante director Lijin Jose’s Friday is an often meandering but still engaging effort, one that must be lauded for its sheer audacity in terms of the number of stories that are woven together.
Set in the time span of a day, a Friday to be precise, the film jumps between various characters, ordinary people like you and me, many of whom have come for various reasons via ferry into the town of Alappuzha, better known to non-Keralites as Alleppey.
The characters range from an irritable autorickshaw driver, a family headed by a father whose youngest daughter is to be married in a week, a childless couple who intend to adopt a young girl, a couple of hoodlums who are trying to sell some sort of exotic animal on the sly, a pregnant beggar woman with another child in her hand, and many, many more stories and characters. In fact, even as I listed the ones I did, I thought of so many more that I haven’t.
There are so many characters and stories in Friday that about three quarters of an hour are spent just establishing them. That is perhaps the one big flaw in the film – it could easily have done without so many of the characters and stories, and have still been just as engaging.
Nevertheless, once each story reaches its own little turning point, the film picks up steam. The film then proceeds at breakneck speed as every story hurtles towards its own little ending, even as a number of the hitherto unrelated characters come together for a larger, more conventional climax.
One of the problems with having so many stories running parallel is the fact that there are too many false climaxes and resolutions. I could sense some of the more fidgety members of the audience desperately wondering what exactly was going on. The narrative is by no means complex, but it demands your total attention in order to truly make sense of what is going on.
The experience of immersing yourself into the lives of so many characters is made even more convincing because of the actors playing the characters. Fahad Fazil is excellent as the autorickshaw driver in need of money, who is then faced with a moral dilemma. Thespian Nedumudi Venu is pitch perfect as the hassled father of the bride-to-be, while Vijayraghavan playing the kindly police office helping them out is excellent as well. Many of the other performances, too many to list out, are fairly convincing.
What really works for the film is that each of the stories depicts the life of a real person, carving out a little slice of it for the audience to savour. The parallel narrative, something that I always enjoy, adds to the overall experience. The last few moments of the film were daring, something that very few filmmakers would have attempted.
While there are no standout technical achievements in the film, with the cinematography and background score being purely functional, credit must be given to the editor for handling so many stories and weaving them together without ever making the audience wait too long for the next snippet of each story. Going back to the background score, I often felt that the choice of background pieces during certain scenes was poor, detracting from the intended impact of the scene rather than adding to it.
In spite of its hiccups, Friday is still a film that is worth a watch. It is heartening to see a young filmmaker have the vision to attempt something that is by no means easy and manage to justice to it for the most. Lijin Jose is a director to watch out for and Friday is a film that I’d recommend to anyone who likes being completely engaged and involved in a film.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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