The Hindu – New Dehli News
ZIYA US SALAM
Over to the future…
ENGROSSING FARE: Natalie Portman with Hugo Weaving in "V for Vendetta" that keeps the audience quite interested.
V FOR VENDETTA
(At PVR Priya and other Delhi theatres)
Here comes a futuristic thriller that goes beyond being a sound and light show. Taking us to the world in 2020, with some Orwellian undertones, director James McTeigue raises several pertinent questions: We might be moving towards a Welfare State, but why should the people fear the Government? Should not the Government fear its people?
Then there is a little dig at those raising the bogey of a monolith world with one culture, one language, one religion: the lead character V, standing for a world against corruption and cruelty, assuring safety but no freedom to the individual, has a one-line slogan: Strength from unity, unity from faith. Sounds familiar to people across the world post-9/11?
On such intangible threads McTeigue spins together the story of a masked man V who rises against totalitarianism – matters little that this rebel's end and his means are not much better – and a TV reporter – Natalie Portman as Evy – saved from a criminal assault by him. The relationship between the captive reporter and V has many layers; each more nuanced than the other: It covers a spectrum of emotions from fear and hatred to nudging acquiescence and even affirmation. And Hugo Weaving adds a dash of the wicked with his voice to V. He is cold, dispassionate, bothered as little blowing up buildings, killing people as he would be swatting a fly. Then there is the mask with that vicarious constant smile. And you realise you are in a world where your pain will only give the opponent pleasure. However, there is a little problem there: the mask talks, but the lips don't move. And that can be disconcerting even in a futuristic thriller!
Based on an Alan Moore novel – though he has distanced himself from the movie – it is not a bad bargain for those who may be missing the Matrix charm: it comes from the house of the Wachowskis who have given us the Matrix series too. And quite fun for an average cinemagoer. The director stays honest. The narration is smooth, there are not too many sub-plots to kill the suspense or even give a momentary break from the engaging saga of a man who rises against dictatorship, walks through a police cordoned-off area unheard, unseen, lives life on his terms. He is there, yet not quite there. In that little mystery lies unending drama for the viewers. And those questions he raises so subtly tell us where we have come, and more importantly, where we are headed. George Orwell… did one hear!
This is one of those films where performance stops short of promise. Like in most such dramas, it takes off positively as we watch Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen get familiar with each other. They meet on a train, exchange glances, their eyes flash a spark, and from there on, we know, the good things won't last forever: you see the film is called "Derailed"!
There is a little difference, though: the guy and the gal are both married, with problems of their own. He has a disturbed family, is low on finances, unsure of the next salary, and has a sick daughter. She is an analyst struggling to grasp the meaning of her life. Of course they have an instant attraction and one meeting leads to another…It has hilarious overtones. But it is too gruff too often for us to salivate over the couple's next meeting! Which is a bit sad considering director Mikael Hafstrom manages to keep things tight and racy until the surprise shift in focus.
In the sylvan surroundings of Naini Tal they dare to dream together. She is a little orphan waif, a street dancer in danger of losing the most precious asset a girl can have. He is a photographer who mortgages his house so they can have a home together, she can become a star in tinsel town. Together they set off for Mumbai… For a while there is just heartburn and frustration. Then as she gets to her destination, he does not even taste death, she is a traveller gone too far away, he a lonely wayfarer, singed and thirsty. The cry is silent, the plaint more so… but there is a little desire in his eyes that refuses to either brim or dry… but smile he must. For the world, and for his love that not long ago was his world. But a wreath does not give a tomb the look of a garden.
On such lovely premise rests director Mustafa Engineer's "Chand Ke Paar Chalo". He does not quite take us to the world of the stars and the moon; rather we are left like the day that seeks the night, or the night that searches for dawn.