18+ Review | An Enjoyable Eloping Comedy With a Pinch of Caste Politics

The first film from Arun D Jose, Jo & Jo was one film that had a very thin plotline, and it was the humor that contributed enormously to making that movie become a pleasing entertainer. When it comes to his second film, 18+ (Journey of Love 18+), Arun, along with his co-writer Raveesh Nath, is trying to have a much more solid plot. With the humor texture that gets carried forward from his first film along with a climax that has a less preachy yet political tweak, I would say 18+ is an enjoyable eloping comedy.

Akhil and Athira, who were in love, are the central characters of this movie. Akhil is a worker of the Communist party, and Athira is the daughter of the prominent local leader of the same party. At one point, Athira told Akhil that she was ready to come with him because she feared her family would send her to Gujarat. The sudden plans of eloping and the repercussions of that plan are what we see in Journey of Love 18+.

The movie’s first half is pretty thin, and it depends a lot on the verbal banter between the characters to keep us engaged. It is actually the second half that adds strength to the film. It’s that phase where these young lads are clueless about how to deal with this kind of scenario. Even though it is still driven by banter comedy, there is a layer that makes the whole situation kind of hilarious. You don’t really feel like the story is getting stuck. There are motives in the script that are solid enough to make us believe that the actions done by the characters were practical. And some of the twists you expect to happen gets a second twist which kind of surprises you. Some cringe-inducing dialogue bits are in the story, but the humor covers it up.

The making style Arun D Jose followed in Jo & Jo is followed here as well. He captures the conversations between characters in the rawest format possible. What is particularly good is the writing that ensures the comic energy is never lost. When Akhil asks Athira aren’t you sad? Her reply and what Akhil’s friend Reji assumes from that response lighten the mood. Some unexpected comical events are actually helping the movie move forward. Along with this, you have the jokes around the cluelessness of these young folks, like how they never thought about the blouse, the issue around periods, etc. The film’s climax, which deals with caste politics, might be a result of the ongoing wave of cinema that bravely addressed the existence of the caste divide. In the case of 18+, that aspect never really stood out, and it was placed in a way that you almost thought ADJ ruined it all by making a “female bitching” film.

Naslen, as the clueless and helpless Akhil, is effective, but I thought the movie didn’t give him much space as an actor as the character was always stuck in one mind-space. Meenakshi delivered a very convincing performance in her first lead role as Athira. The naivety and slang enhanced the performance, and she was pretty fluent. The Instagram duo Saaf and Anu, as best friends of, Akhil, were hilarious. So was Binu Pappu, who was pretty good as a helping hand. Mathew Thomas’s character is more of an extended cameo who only pops up at relevant points. Rajesh Madhavan and Nikhila Vimal added more to the laughter through their bits. Shyam Mohan got a memorable role, while Maoj KU effortlessly made his character look real on screen.

If you have enjoyed watching director Arun D Jose’s first film, Jo & Jo, then this one is one film that will surely keep you engaged. In terms of writing techniques and visual texture, 18+ is pretty much in the same zone as the Mathew Thomas and Nikhila Vimal starrer. But the foundation this time is a lot more solid, and the climax that sort of exposes and teases prevalent hypocrisy in our society gives a stable enough end punch to a predominantly light-hearted fun film.

Final Thoughts

If you have enjoyed watching director Arun D Jose's first film, Jo & Jo, then this one is one film that will surely keep you engaged.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.