Antony: A Truly Tiresome Film with No Sense of Direction
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Touted to be Tamil Cinema’s first claustrophobic thriller, Antony sets itself amidst high expectations. But does director Kuttii Kumar ensure that the film lives up to the expectations? Sadly, no. On paper, such a one-liner though familiar to Ryan Reynolds’ Buried still feels interesting. But the poor execution and uninteresting screenplay disappoints, leaving the audience with a film whose obvious inconsistencies are bound to repeatedly test your patience.
Antony (Nishanth), a police officer wakes up and finds himself trapped inside a car buried under the ground. Unable to recollect how he landed up in this mess, he tries endlessly to free himself from this dangerous scenario without collapsing. On a parallel track, you discover that it is Antony’s wedding day as the story takes us to the registrar’s office, where his father George (Lal) and bride to be Maha (Vaishali) await his arrival. After a while, they get suspicious and set off to look for Antony. Their hunt and Antony’s fight to survival forms the crux of the film.
Just ten minutes into the film, you realize that director Kuttii Kumar is clearly confused between a non-linear and random approach. Though nonlinear structures develop sudden twist and might take different directions, each of these details are meticulously planned by the writer and director. But in Antony, the story just randomly shifts between Antony’s efforts to escape and his father’s efforts to find him. One minute, you are taken through Antony’s struggle, just as its intensity seeps in, the story shifts to his father and fiancé scouting his location amidst the hills of Kodaikanal. Due to this constant shift in the film’s direction, both these story tracks are executed half-heartedly.
To make matters worse, the already unfocused narrative of Antony takes further deviations as the director decides to takes us through a sub-plot that is in no way related to the story. Suddenly, you see Maha getting kidnapped by a gangster and henceforth, this sub-plot is given preference over the pressing central plot. At this point, the screenplay gets so chaotic that you begin to empathize with the claustrophobia the central character feels.
Another problem with Antony is the inefficient manner in which it tries to blend two powerful genres. It calls itself a whodunit thriller. But the essence of a thriller is diluted by the deviations it takes. The promise a whodunit film makes is also broken by Antony quite early on as the person responsible is revealed to you in a reckless manner.
The film is as un-imaginative as it gets. Its running time is just a little over an hour and a half but it feels like you’re stuck inside the theatre for a lifetime because of the recurring slow-motion shots that simply reflects the maker’s carelessness. As time progresses, the writing gets all the more lazy. Antony is actually buried under the earth. One would think this provides enough scope for hopelessness and tension. Unfortunately, you don’t feel the anxiety even for a second. It’s as though Antony buried himself. Just like those make-believe escape rooms they have for thrill-seekers, it seems as though Antony came prepared to be buried. He has all the instruments that make for a comfortable escape. When you take the thrill out of a film that is meant to thrive on it, what is really left?
The performance of the cast is quite disappointing. Most of the actors including Nishanth and Lal ham their parts. Vaishali’s character has no scope in the film. Her characterization itself feels quite unnecessary.
The film’s music is over-the-top and quite intrusive. It strips away the importance of George’s investigation as it continues to preside over dialogues. Even before something crucial to the story happens, the amateur music gives it away.
The cinematography in Antony is good. But it stands alone. It doesn’t stand behind the film, supporting the director’s vision. Instead, it appears picture-perfect like the visuals of an advertisement. The frames are good on their own, but they never converge with the film. What is the point of having aesthetically perfect visuals if they proceed to take-off on their own? Any technical aspect that stands alone instead of merging with the film is merely an act of propaganda in a craft that is built on teamwork. Nevertheless, the cinematographer’s ability would be better suited in the hands of a director who has enough clarity to take their story in the right direction.
On the whole, Antony is tiresome film. It promises suspense but all it delivers is a chaotic chain of events strung together randomly.