A synopsis of all that we experienced on the first day of the 20th Mumbai Film Festival.
11:30 a.m.: Screening of Colombian film Birds of Passage at PVR ECX, Andheri
Directors: Cristina Gallego and CiroGuerra
Colombian film Birds of Passage takes a darkly disturbing look at family feuds, clan rivalry, and how age-old customs and traditions, backed by human greed, are usually bound to leave death and destruction in their wake. More telling is how the film sees these factors as more corruption and perilous than the drug business run by the characters. However, Director-duo Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra give the film too somber a tone for its own good, with unnecessary long-drawn shots of the desert, birds, insects, and cultural rituals of the indigenous community shown, which all but brings proceedings to a tedious crawl at times. Still, Birds of Passage is a marked improvement from the bore-fest that Guerra’s previous film, Embrace of the Serpent was, and ends up stating with you for its pertinence despite its many pretentious arty shortcomings.
2 p.m.: Screening of Boy Erased at PVR Dynamix Mall, Juhu
Director: Joel Edgerton
Boy Erased is a stinging visual and moral commentary on how religious dogma, toxic archaic beliefs, and blind faith cripple emotional, sexual, psychological, and, to an extent, even spiritual growth. Laced by indelible performances by Nicole Kidman and Joel Edgerton (who’s also the Director, growing by leaps and bound from his promising directorial debut, The Gift, three years ago), the film deeply moves you, angers you, touches you, even without you shedding a year, and it does all this by exposing the dark underbelly of religion rather than desecrating it all together. The pace dips a bit in the middle, but the overall impact is as haunting as it is hopeful, coming together in a highly uplifting, emotional climax.
6 p.m.: Screening of Marathi film Imago at PVR Icon, Andheri
Directors: Karan Chavan and Vikram Patil
Imago is as pointless as a sword that has lost its top half, as directionless as a traveler without a destination, as pretentious as an SJW opining about world politics, and as painfully slow as a bicycle with two flat tyres. Given that the film is based on a student facing huge social anxiety and the bond she forms with a teacher who comes to her rescue, Taare Zameen Par seems like the closest analogy. Only, imagine TZP sans the emotions, bonding, plotting, character arcs, relationship dynamics, or even an iota of engagement, and you get Imago.
0/5 stars (it’s extremely rare that we give a film either a ‘5’ or a ‘0’)
8 p.m.: Screening of In Fabric at PVR ECX, Andheri
Director: Peter Strickland
In Fabric continues with plenty of witty dialogues, humorous situations, and some genuine scares till the halfway stage, making its abstract premise and truly unique concept (anything that can make a garment look creepy merits points in my book) a genuine first for a horror-comedy. However, thereon the film quickly shifts from abstract to absurd, with writer-Director Peter Strickland losing grip of both the wit and chill he was so deftly handling till then, which ultimately makes the narrative too obscure and weird for its own good. This one had a lot of potential, but ends up ripping a hole in its own fabric.
Over to MAMI 2018 Day 2.