Mahesh Narayanan‘s new Malayalam film ‘C U Soon‘ perhaps wants you to see the film soon through its wordplay on the title. Backed up by Fahadh Faasil and Friends, Nazaria Nazim and Fahadh Faasil produce one of the better films of the lot that was shot and processed entirely during the lockdown, and thankfully they don’t tell a pandemic laden lockdown story, like many other efforts during the period attempt to.
This one is a high concept film shot totally through various kinds of phone and other device cameras, and the audience is watching everything happening on the screen through the camera eye; with chats, video calls, social media browsing sessions and many other multi threaded activities happening in parallel over multiple windows. That helps to emulate the frenzy, the chaos and the restlessness that a lot of us have made a intense part of our lives as well, more so in the current times of more and more physical social distancing giving way to heightened virtual presence for almost everyone. At times, the pace gets you, especially if you are following the film more through subtitles. And I would personally recommend that watching it over a smaller screen interface may actually work better in this case to process so many parallel threads with the language handicap, plus the sense of claustrophobia also works better for immersing yourself in the mood of the narrative here.
One cannot ignore the influence of Aneesh Chaganty‘s 2018 film Searching here, that also dealt with the similar format of massive use of online search over intensive social media network by a father to crack the mystery behind his missing daughter. Here the story focuses on a young man Jimmy (Roshan Mathew) and a woman Anu (Darshana Rajendran) who meet virtually through Tinder and how their relationship escalates very very quickly to a proposal for marriage over a google meet group call, to her moving to his place under some unforeseen circumstances, to her then going missing all of a sudden and him facing a police arrest as a result. All this happening while Jimmy’s cousin Kevin (Fahadh Faasil), who is some sort of a hacker, uses intensive technology to background check Anu to assure Jimmy, data and insights misleading him initially, and then him again using technology to crack through a much more heinous flesh trade racket via his online investigation as things go wrong.
C U Soon works well because Narayanan and team package the film very smartly to ensure that it remains an engaging experience throughout the runtime, and build the eerie atmosphere upfront (good framing, editing and background score) that something is going to go wrong soon. Notice how beautifully many frames of the film use Darshana’s mysterious eyes from Roshan’s desktop wallpaper, as if wanting the audience to read through them and assess for themselves who she really is. There is high concept craft at display here, but thankfully that does not come at the expense of human emotions or ignoring the interleaved story of trust, affection and betrayal at various levels. In the way, this is also a relevant social commentary by the makers on how human emotions and trust can often be duped through remote technology, and life almost always gets the better of technology how much ever the later gets smarter with time.
The three central performances hold together the film in strength and are able to translate the vision of Narayanan pretty effectively on screen. Darshana Rajendran and especially Roshan Mathew are quite impressive, but there’s were relatively the easier parts as they were written with the scope to emote and convey. I am fast becoming a fan of Roshan Mathew as he continues to impress in film after film. However, it is Fahadh Faasil again who holds the film together through a silent but intense performance conveying so much that is going in his mind and how his perception about the central relationship changes as life throws him unexpected curve balls as part of his witch hunt. By now we know though that he cannot do anything less than this.
The film stumbled for me in how the grand reveal comes through though. After it set itself up so nicely, the entire exposition of the sex trafficking racket almost comes served in a platter through a series of curated video messages over a chat, and feels rather unsmart for such a taut film. Somewhere it felt that the film suddenly lost energy and is in a hurry to wrap up things not knowing how to pull it further. Luckily, the screenplay provides itself some more runway to recover from that, and ends on a high note bringing back focus on some fuzzy feelings to the core, and ending with a ray of hope. The end note that flashes on screen to slice through the virtual and real worlds of the team at play here nicely wraps up the engaging experience that Fahadh Faasil and Friends deliver through C U Soon!
See it soon! Now playing on Amazon Prime Video.
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