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Joju George in the titular role in the drama ‘Joseph’ is unforgettable. The actor-producer who has until now played comic roles and characters with negative shades proves that a good story does not need a star or a larger-than-life character to hold it up. With his understated performance, George is terrific.

Joseph (Joju George) has retired from the police service, yet is often called back for consultation to crack difficult cases. As soon as the film begins, we learn about his Sherlock Holmes-like observation skills. Joseph despite downing a few drinks is alert as he surveys the scene of crime — a double murder of an elderly couple — and solves the case in a surprisingly short time and without much fuss.

However, his personal life is a tragedy. Joseph’s life is empty just like his home. His wife Stella and their only child Diana have left him. Written by Shahi Kabir and directed by M Padmakumar, the story shifts between the past and the present.

Joseph’s tragedy is compounded further by the accidental death of a close one. His discerning eye pushes him onto another investigative journey that opens up a medical scam.

‘Joseph’ is a well-written narrative with a screenplay that keeps you engrossed. Its neatly sketched ordinary characters brought onscreen with natural performances by the actors leave you feeling sad when the movie ends.

George dominates the story with his understated acting. This policeman is a far cry from the cruel cop of ‘Nyan Mary Kutty’ or the friendly cop of ‘Poomaram.’ His two portrayals of Joseph is laudable — the young man in love and the man drowned in sorrow are poles apart. The actor playing the retired officer who finds refuge in the bottle carries a lazy swagger and a disinterested gaze.

Another surprise is actor-director Dileesh Pothan who plays Peter, Stella’s new husband. Pothan, who was last seen in ‘Drama’ as the loud funeral agent Dixon, takes on a character who barely speaks. The relationship shared by George and Peter is awkward. The two men love Stella yet they show a maturity and understanding that is so beautiful. You don’t see this kind of acceptance either in life or onscreen. Kabir scores with his writing.

The supporting actors playing Joseph’s friends deserve mention. So do the actresses Athmiya, Madhuri Braganza and Malavika Mohan who play the women in Joseph’s life. They all prop up the story well.

Another big strength is the spectacular camera work by Manesh Madhavan. Right from the start, his frames are stunning. When we are introduced to Joseph, he is lying drunk in his chair caught between the rays of the morning sun. A hungry cat mews persistently in the background but is not visible and you are left to your imagination. Madhavan’s camera is intrinsic to the story, very much alive and following the characters totally.

‘Joseph’ while bringing to light a medical scam leaves you feeling quite sad.

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Out now

Joseph releases in the UAE on December 13.