Film: C U Soon
Cast: Fahadh Faasil, Roshan Matthews and Darshana Rajendran
Stars: 3.5 out of 5
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
‘C U Soon’ is a riveting Malayalam thriller that subverts the usual tropes attached to an entertaining film.
Without the usual cinematic crutches of bombastic dialogues, blistering budgets, suspenseful music and larger-than-life heroes in expansive locations, director Mahesh Narayan gives us a crash course on keeping it simple, but not stupid.
The thriller opens with an UAE-based rakish bachelor Jimmy (an on-point Matthews) e-meeting a young woman Annu Sebastian (an impressive turn by actress Darshana Rajendran) on a dating app.
They live in different emirates, but sparks fly virtually between the 20 somethings as they hurtle towards each other at a break-neck speed, missing several steps of courtship — such as meeting one another for coffee or spending time with one another. But the rapid pace in the first half is reflective of their adoration for each other. Every scene in this film plays out like messages, videos and SMS on a laptop. There’s lot of vicarious fun to be had.
Right from the first window, you get an inkling their relationship might have strands of deception and subterfuge, but you are never able to put your finger on that shaky vibe.
Fahadh Faasil plays Jimmy’s maverick tech-savvy cousin who’s on call to check the background of Annu, his brother’s fiancée. The ease with which Jimmy’s Christian, conservative and orthodox mother demands a backbround check on her prospective daughter-in-law is all shades of intrusive. But in the Indian match-making scenario, invading someone’s privacy or hacking into their Facebook profile to ensure that the girl/boy is virginal is normalised and even condoned.
Faasil’s turn as the temperamental e-saviour presses all the right keys, but the scene in which he taints his female boss and occasional squeeze with an expletive at a joint team meeting is stretching things too far. He isn’t fired from his job and that lack of accountability for his inherent, deep-seated misogyny is grating. But the movie seems to be batting for all the battered, voiceless women out there.
Apart from that tiny blip where Faasil’s character is a total cad, the movie is a searing portrait of a woman who gets embroiled in flesh trade and human trafficking.
Every actor in this film is perfectly cast. Matthew as the loved-up bachelor, who becomes disillusioned when his fiancée goes missing and he becomes the prime suspect brings his A-game into this picture. Faasil is equally powerful and effective as a protective cousin who realises that he isn’t as smart as he thinks. Darshana Rajendran as the diffident, diminutive lover — who seems to be controlled by an abusive dad and lacks agency — plays her troubled role with the right amount of sensitivity and empathy.
The scenes in which Annu is clearly distressed tugs at your heart. There’s a lot to love in this thriller. But more than the techno wizardry on display or the gross glorification of invasion of privacy, this suspensful film which plays out on a computer screen is full of heart and soul.
The director has done a splendid job of balancing a tenuous love story and a distressing social evil like human trafficking of poor Indian girls to the Middle East. The movie never becomes didactic or statistic-heavy and the director/actors seem to have a taut control on the narrative.
The ending might be a bit too utopian for our liking, but it’s not a deal breaker.
Unlike clinical dating apps that rely on reams of virtual chatting and some painful ice-breaking messages, this thriller never feels clinical or robotic. This is one movie that you shouldn’t delete from your must-watch list this week.
Don’t miss it!
C U Soon is streaming on Amazon Prime Video