The look and feel of the movie Penguin for a majority of its runtime has a peculiar tone. We are clueless about the villain and at one point when we think the movie has finally found its bad guy we still have 30 more minutes of movie left. For me, the curiosity generated by the movie to that point deserved a better climax rather than the usual drill. The movie is definitely holding your interest with the great technical support and a script that is much focused on its main character. But after promising something different from the usual, it sort of went towards the usual.
(Spoiler Alert: It’s a thriller and the trailer managed to hide a lot of details. So this review will have minor spoilers)
Rhythm is our central protagonist and she is pregnant now. But 6 years ago her son Ajay got abducted by an unknown masked man and the police weren’t able to find that boy. So this new child is extremely important for Rhythm to move on. But during the 7th month of her pregnancy, Rhythm decides to pay a visit to the lake where she lost her kid and what happened there changes the whole picture.
In building a thriller, you can actually throw in a lot of spooky stuff in the beginning. And the audience will be excited to see all that because at the back of their mind they will be eager to know how they are going to get an explanation or link to all those things. Penguin is doing the initial bit in this formula effectively thanks to the fabulous visuals and background score. Even when I am saying the last 30 minutes didn’t work for me entirely, I did like the idea of comparison becoming a factor in a crucial climax moment. But in the serial killer revenge movies, there is an element of empathy when we hear how it all began. But for some reason, that was missing in Penguin. To give you an example, the character played by Sharafudheen in Anjaam Pathiraa stays with you for a reason. That quality was missing in Penguin.
Keerthy Suresh is doing the heavy lifting here as there is hardly a scene in the movie that doesn’t have her. The Mahanati actress has done a fairly good job of getting into the skin of a character like Rhythm. The other main character actor who needs to be acknowledged is actor Mathi who played the role of the doctor. He was able to hold the interest of the viewer in his scenes in the movie. The rest of the cast including names like Lingaa, Madhampatty Rangaraj, Nithya Kirubha play significant characters with relatively less screen time.
Eashwar Karthic is building the story smoothly without the usual eccentric tone we generally see in Tamil movies. The drone shots that capture the breathtaking beauty of the landscapes show us the isolation the character of Rhythm feels. And I loved the way he reached the interval point which had the texture of something supernatural. Post interval also the curiosity building process is happening. But there you can see him clearly creating some distractions. When we finally hear the real motive behind all these incidents, we don’t feel like backtracking the past of that character. The “Game” that happens in the story is a tricky one for the viewer. Because cinematically the eccentricity in that scene is exciting, but logically you will find it unnecessary (Maybe a second viewing might make it look less unnecessary).The cinematography is on the visually stunning side. You get to see a lot of aerial shots with no crowd. The color palette of the movie has that spooky nature. The tension-building they have done in that secret lab/slaughterhouse using static visuals, intense background score, and precise cuts were really impressive.
Penguin is extremely appealing on a technical level. The mood building here is done perfectly. But the film slowly starts to go back to the usual nature of the other movies in the same genre and thus reducing the charm considerably. It becomes a bit desperate for a closure and we have the central protagonist talking about motherhood and the director adding a quote about motherhood at the end; which somewhere shows the lack of confidence.
In the serial killer revenge movies, there is an element of empathy when we hear how it all began. But for some reason, that was missing in Penguin.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended