French Viplavam directed by debutante Maju KB is a satirical caricature drama that has elements but isn’t entirely convincing. The movie is almost like the half-baked version of an exquisite dish. The eccentricity of the characters and situations are fun on one level while the plot that is all over the place makes it an untidy movie with a peculiarity in treatment.
This is set in the time when the arrack ban happened in Kerala. So all the drunkards are now disappointed and they are all looking for alternative ways for rejuvenation. And the personal love story of Sathyan is happening on the other side where things aren’t smooth between him and his future father in law Patta. How a particular French Wine becomes a decisive factor in this tussle is what French Viplavam trying to explore.
There is a scene where Sathyan’s future mother in law throws away the entire sharp knife like objects from the home before revealing the truth that her daughter is pregnant before marriage, to her husband. The kind of detailing Maju has given to that scene is one example for many of the scenes in the movie where he has given priority to such minimal things. Even though the overwritten elaborate script is not helping the movie in getting into a nutshell, I liked this making style which looked promising even when you can see flaws. There is this mixture of sarcasm, black comedy, spoof etc. in the movie to make us realize that it is that logic free ride. But the problem is that there is a lack of totality to the different events happening in the story.
Sunny Wayne is luckily not doing his usual “lazy” acting here and I felt he was able to get that over-enthusiastic tone of the script. Lal is another major name here who pretty much dominates with the eccentric portrayal of Patta. We have seen this shade of Lal before, but here he looked really convincing. Navas Vallikkunnu, last seen in Sudani from Nigeria delivers a memorable performance as Mao. Unnimaya Prasad as Patta’s wife was good. Chemban Vinod Jose was good in his character while the relevance of that character remains questionable. The cast of the movie is really elaborate and I haven’t felt any of them as a miscasting as almost all of them did justice to their roles.
The movie is directed and co-written by Maju KB who has said on record that his film experience was watching Lijo Jose Pellissery work on the sets of Ee Ma Yau. Well even if you don’t know that fact, you might come out of the theater saying the director has tried to create an output similar to what LJP manages to do. Because the similarities are that close. While this type of treatment is justifiable for a theme like this, somewhere deep down the originality was getting compromised. The major problem I felt was with the script. This is a movie that needed a solid conflict to convince the audience as the madness factor can easily become an annoyance for the viewer. But Maju and his co-writers are throwing subplots and random characters. Like I said before, the characters given to people like Chemban Vinod Jose gets wasted in the whole process. Even the political aspect of the “ban” process gets a low key exploration. This was actually one movie where I felt it would have been a good idea for a web series as the conflicts are frequently shifting. The cinematography has a major role in making us feel that similarity with Lijo movies. Even the music, background scores, and sound design have that quirky element in them.
French Viplavam is an idea that needed a tidier script and a little more rollercoaster feel in its treatment. It couldn’t make me get excited about what will happen if they get that French wine. If the struggle to get it was eventful, that climax shot would have definitely made me clap.
French Viplavam is an idea that needed a tidier script and a little more rollercoaster feel in its treatment. It couldn’t make me get excited about what will happen if they get that French wine.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended