16 May 2000 | lou-50
"The Terrorist" is a non-violent film about violence and the subtlety of its camera work and overall direction might remind you of a travelogue rather than a searing drama about political fanaticism. The film takes place in India and yet we don't have any information on what the conflict is nor do we see the rebel leader whose hand controls all the subversion. That really isn't important but what is important is studying the assassin, Malli, who has so many close-ups that it border on obsession as the filmmakers try to reveal the conflicts she has to resolve in her mind, from her eyes blinking at the drops of rain to her face to face encounter with her lover soldier to her final makeup before meeting her destiny. Three men reveal themselves to Malli at pivotal points and the film underscores it with a technique of keeping the background unfocused until it is called for - the lover soldier who sees Malli as an obscured vision, the boy Lotus who stands too late to see his fate, and the VIP as he is greeted by the young women. Never are explosions seen nor direct killings exposed, we only hear gun shots or the splatter of blood on the murderer's face or the bloodied machete. The film seems to tip its hand by introducing the likeable 'Mad Vasu' and his comatose wife with her outstretched hand of comfort but, in truth, we had no way of anticipating the ending. You might want to compare "The Terrorist" to "Day of the Jackal" or even "La Femme Nikita" but such comparisons would be unfair. "The Terrorist" is a much better film because it allows the audience to unravel the mind of an assassin, in isolation, without the prejudice of killed bodies or self-serving violence. "The Terrorist" is a powerful adventure into the lonely paths of the human soul.