When it comes to high-concept films, it is actually the craft and concept that captivates you more than the visual gimmicks. Pendulum, directed by Rejin S Babu, is not a film that explores something you haven’t seen anywhere else. Structurally it is the amalgamation of many concepts we have seen in creations like Dark, Inception, Edge of Tomorrow, etc. After a bumpy first quarter, Rejin takes us closer to the idea in a very engaging way without necessarily making things flashy.
During a one-day family trip, Dr. Mahesh Narayanan experiences many weird things around him. The family finds him unconscious in a different place, and Mahesh has no idea how he ended up there. He was clear about what he dreamt, including the names of the kids he saw in the dream. Mahesh’s journey to find out what really happened to him and how that unfolds is what we see in Pendulum.
The early portions of the movie feature two kids in their teenage years, and it is actually the writing of that portion that affects the movie badly in creating a good first impression. The present-day Dr. Mahesh track and the flashback track have staggering tone differences. Towards the end of the first half, Rejin introduces us to the lucid dream concept that blends with the idea of time traveling. One thing I found interesting was the verbal explanation of lucid dreaming from the character played by Prakash Bare. Even though it felt like an orientation class for the audience, it wasn’t making things far too basic for them. There are complexities in understanding why Dr. Mahesh was involved in the whole thing. But the fact that they are not considering time as a linear entity in this fantasy vision explains many things.
The writing aspect of the movie, especially in the way dialogues are constructed, is the weak link in Rejin S Babu’s making style. I was really impressed by how he built a lucid dream sequence through a simple match cut in that conversation scene between Vijay Babu and Anu Mol. When you imagine a theme like this, it is possible to make it a green screen overdose. But the visual effects part is pretty minimal in this film. If the dialogues were a bit more free, the movie would have created more intrigue in the audience’s minds. I think both Pingami and Manichitrathazhu are the director’s favorites, as one could see some similar scenes and moments in Mahesh’s solo journey to find out the truth.
As Dr. Mahesh, Vijay Babu has done a convincing job, and to an extent, he reduces the stiffness created by the dialogues through his performance. Devaki Rajendran also rendered the conversations in a more practical way. Getting the best performance out of the child actors is a director’s talent, and here, making them prompt the overdramatic dialogues precisely the same way backfires. Even someone like Anu Mol struggles to find the correct pitch for that character’s exclamation. Shobi Thilakan, Indrans, Jolly Chirayath, Ramesh Pisharody, Neena Kurup, etc., are the other major names in the minimal star cast of the film.
I am not saying Pendulum is a perfect film or even a unique film. It is inspired by many movies and books that have extensively discussed the concept of time traveling and lucid dreaming. But Rejin S Babu’s story is not a lazy copy of all those thoughts. It belongs to that category of films where you could feel its potential but could only achieve it partially.
It belongs to that category of films where you could feel its potential but could only achieve it partially.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended