No Man’s Land, the Malayalam movie released on Amazon Prime Video, belongs to those pretentious and half-baked single-location ideas that got to see the light due to the pandemic. The film wants to portray itself as a thriller drama that focuses on the characters. But it never really reaches a point where we would feel like contemplating the life or psyche of any of the characters in the film. No Man’s Land is an underdeveloped script with many emotional gimmicks that don’t blend with the story.
The story is set in the backdrop of a resort in a hill station. Sumitra is a housekeeping staff of the resort who slept with the guests who came there to earn additional money. Mathayikutty, a man with mental issues, is also staff there. The routine life of these two got a drastic shift when a couple who eloped to get married came to the resort for a couple of nights’ stay. How that visit changes everything for Mathayikutty and Sumitra is what we see in No Man’s Land.
Directed and written by Jishnu Harindra Varma, No Man’s Land intends to explore the complicated nature of the human mind. What triggers the problem in No Man’s Land is Sumitra’s insecurity. The impulsive nature of her behavior doesn’t make much sense. We don’t get to see enough of her to create a theory on our heads about what she might have gone through. And, seeing a woman who cries about having to sleep with multiple men for the sake of money being insecure about that job is kind of weird. When Sudhi Koppa’s character enters in the latter half of the film, we expect the plot to become more intriguing. But the film goes through predictable trajectories.
In terms of performance, the main focus is on the characters played by Sreeja Das and Lukman. Because of the way these characters were written so one-dimensionally, the shift in characters’ attitudes is pretty jarring and feels a bit exaggerated. Sreeja Das has that intensity to be Sumitra in those moments where the expressions are minimal. But those patches where she acts like a manipulator didn’t really work for me. Lukman was perhaps the one actor here who managed to pull off a better performance without really making the performance look comical. Sudhi Koppa doesn’t have much space in the screenplay to create an impact.
Jishnu Harindra Varma is trying to expand a thin layer of an idea he has inside his head. Instead of giving the tale some sensible depth, he is trying to stretch a moment far too long. And that too in sequences that don’t really help the story move forward rhythmically. Set in one location, Pavi K Pavan uses various lenses and lights to differentiate between the normal and eccentric moments in the movie. The music was disappointing.
No Man’s Land would have been a watchable short film if they had opted for a skimmed version of this screenplay. Instead of giving us a better understanding of the characters, the film is trying to increase its runtime through those intimate sequences and visuals of drug use. The premise of the film is an interesting one, but the presentation lacked finesse.
Instead of giving us a better understanding of the characters, the film is trying to increase its runtime through those intimate sequences and visuals of drug use.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended