Among the list of films that Don Palathara has already made (and I have watched), I would say, Family stays at the bottom of the list. While others sort of win you over with their politics or craft, here, the intended criticism felt a bit less sharp. Having said that, I don’t mean to say the movie is unlikeable by any means. In fact, I was excited to watch the movie in its entirety for a major part of its runtime.
Sony belongs to a very orthodox Christian family, and he is a teacher. He had run a tuition class for kids, but now he focuses only on home tuition as he is awaiting a permanent job as a teacher. What we see in the movie is a series of events that happen in that village, and through all that, we explore Sony and how he is perceived and protected in that community.
SPOILERS AHEAD! By giving the movie the title Family, Don isn’t trying to make a movie that specifically talks about a particular family and its dysfunctionality. The idea works more as a critique of the concept that glorifies Family as the epicenter of everything. The movie goes further to show how even a perceived “good” family can act like a protector of a predator. Actually, in establishing the character as a normalized good guy with evident tracks and subtle hints, Don is very successful. But the movie stumbles or opts for a semi-satiric softer approach when it comes to the third act.
As the central character Sony, Vinay Forrt portrays the part with the body language the character demands. The deceptive public image of Sony is very safe in Forrt’s hands, and the “empathy” is so genuine that it can create a sense of eeriness and humor depending on the situation. Other than Vinay Forrt, the rest of the cast has very minimal screen time in the movie. Divya Prabha was believable as the typical daughter-in-law. Nilja K Baby is there as Sony’s love interest. Mathew Thomas plays the role of Sony’s brother and conveys the history of the sibling relationship with minimal movements of the facial muscles.
There is a metaphorical layer in the movie where you have the track of a tiger, who is attacking all the silent domestic animals in the village. You can see the irony of two “hunters” getting different treatment in the same society. The way Don vaguely plants this track along with the life of Sony creates intrigue around the film’s theme. But like I already said, the finale of the movie, where we see the protagonist sort of leaving the clumsy past easily, with the help of his family to a new terrain where he has a flurry of prey, needed a bit more shock value and somewhere the eeriness the calm frames managed to generate till that point diminished gradually.
Don Palathara films have never had a preachy issue-based movie tone. And this one towards the very end, sort of peeps into that space and luckily decides not to enter there. It is an impressive thought that uses frames and pace to build its world. But the lack of sharpness of the supposed-to-be disturbing ending somewhat reduces the movie’s impact.
It is an impressive thought that uses frames and pace to build its world. But the lack of sharpness of the supposed-to-be disturbing ending somewhat reduces the movie's impact.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended