At one point in Shaji Azeez’s Wolf, Asha, played by Samyuktha Menon, is vehemently arguing with her male chauvinist fiancé Sanjay on why she should have his approval on everything she does with her life. The way Asha counters each patriarchal statement by Sanjay was a refreshing site to watch, and I even thought I should personally recommend this film to people I know who are tolerating such insensitive behavior. But after a crucial juncture in the story, Wolf takes a drastic U-Turn in its stand. The abrupt solution of this move against toxic relationships was almost like saying Arjun Reddys can be fixed easily by simply threatening them.
Sanjay is about to get married in around 15 days. On his way to meet his friends for a gathering, he decides to visit his fiancée Asha. Asha wasn’t expecting Sanjay at that time, and she was upset as nobody was there in the house. And suddenly, they hear this news that the PM has declared lockdown in the entire country. The events that happen in that house over a night’s time with two people in a stressed situation are what we see in Wolf.
In the beginning, when you see Sanjay’s short-tempered behavior and the way Asha criticizes him for that, you would somewhere feel that Wolf is also joining that league of movies in the recent past that called out benevolent sexism and casual misogyny. But this single-location thriller somewhere lost its track and ended up being that preachy film that asks women to fix the men. What’s surprising and disappointing about the film is that at the midpoint, you see the woman daring to hurt the fragile male ego, and by the end, she is like, he can be fixed, and she will do that. I know it’s a debatable topic. But in my view, the makers are assigning the responsibility of repairing and accepting flawed men to women.
The performance of Arjun Ashokan is really superb. Sanjay is one guy who is simply not likable at any angle, and trust me, you would want to slap that guy for his behavior. Arjun, through his performance, makes sure that the insensitive tone of that character is communicated effectively. Samyukhta Menon has shown a significant level of improvement in her dialogue delivery, an aspect of her acting that I often found underwhelming. The reactions of Asha have an organic feel to its credit. Actor Irshad plays a crucial role in the movie, and he manages to deliver those dramatic lines with an appreciable level of conviction. Both Shine Tom Chacko and Jaffar Idukki are mere distractions in the script with minimal space to perform.
The movie is mainly happening inside one house, and thus Shaji Azeez has to deal with a lot of close shots. The congestion you feel in the frames creatively helps the movie as the intended vibe of almost all the scenes is tension and angst. Even in extracting the performance of the actors, Shaji Azeez has succeeded. Like I already said, the abrupt U-turn of the script by GR Indugopan from being a story that talked against sexism to a story that somewhere asks the victim of sexism to fix all the problems destroyed the movie and its intent. It felt like they wanted a climax that would make the viewer nervous, but in that quest for intrigue, they forgot the movie’s politics. The movie wants us to believe that a few hours of trauma and speech changed Sanjay’s view on women and looking at the way they have presented Sanjay, it would feel like a silly justification to embrace patriarchy.
The politics of Wolf was its highlight, and it is the deviation from that politics that made it look regressive at the end. For almost 70% of its runtime, I was emotionally rooting for this movie. But the climax and the events that lead up to it felt disappointing. Despite having impressive performances from its main cast, Wolf felt like a wasted opportunity because of its patriarchal undertones.
Despite having impressive performances from its main cast, Wolf felt like a wasted opportunity because of its patriarchal undertones.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended