Kuttram 23: A Compelling Thriller That Surpasses Its Prevailing Flaws
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Nearly a decade ago, Director Arivazhagan made a promising debut with his enthralling film Eeram. Unfortunately, his two directorial ventures since then haven’t lived up to his debut’s mastery; they have failed to engross and captivate audiences. Now, eight years later, Arivazhagan is delivering Kuttram 23, an edge-of-the-seat medical thriller that manages to surpass its fair share of flaws.
An earnest and bold Assistant Commissioner, Vetrimaaran (Arun Vijay) sets out to investigate the wrongful assassination of a priest, a murder linked with several other cases of mysterious suicides. As his investigation progresses, he uncovers clues that lead him to discover appalling scandals, ones that he must put an end to.
Director Arivazhagan’s Kuttram 23 successfully conveys its morally enlightening message. In fact, it contains several nail-biting sequences that establish the director’s politically correct and strong statements in a strategic manner. If you’ve watched all four of director Arivazhagan’s films, you will know by now of his tendency to preach. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; especially given that he hasn’t yet gone overboard with it.
Subtly making its way into the narrative are the importance of locally sourced goods, the after effects of using mobile phones at petrol bunks, a woman who calls out incessant flirting and a hospital named Varam (Blessing) where all that is dished out is curses. These cleverly placed elements within the film raise questions in the minds of viewers. They try and warn you against merely trusting the outward image of an establishment, or more generally trusting popular culture.
Despite Kuttram 23 bringing you to the edge of your seat, it does have its fair share of flaws. For starters, its intermittent use of English isn’t organic enough. It also contains a tiny layer of narrow mindedness, and the second half of the film drags on for a bit more than it should. At a certain point, the character arc of Thendral’s (Mahima Nambiar) family succumbs to melodramatic dialogues and expressions.
It isn’t all bad. The film’s slow narrative is partly made up for by its realistically choreographed stunt sequences. The narrow mindedness also washes away when lead characters such as Vetri’s brother share their progressive views. Finally, the melodrama is offset by unpredictable plot twists that are employed in the first half of the film.
Acting as the backbone of this thriller, Arun Vijay is convincing as the bold and heroic assistant commissioner – a man who tends to take justice into his own hands. After playing Victor, a cut-throat villain in Yennai Arindhaal, Arun Vijay embraces the role of a cop with passion and charisma. Mahima Nambiar and Abinaya are also quite good in the film. Even Thambi Ramiah hits the right note with his spontaneous and sarcastic humour.
While the cinematography isn’t really cutting edge, it succeeds in serving its purpose for the film. Vishal Chandrasekhar’s music is minimalistic and complements the pace and tone of the film fairly well.
On the whole, Kuttram 23 is a compelling thriller that manages to overcome its fair share of flaws. The film is a deserved win for both Director Arivazhagan and actor Arun Vijay. Once the narrative begins, you will find yourself automatically overlooking obvious flaws as you are taken over by the plot’s intriguing conflicts.