27 October 2006 | vjunkmailster
Cinema at its finest.
If you like cinema, it's beyond me how you can not like this movie.
There's so much to love here. The precision and nuance the director employs is beautiful. There are so many scenes that only last a few seconds, but they leave such an indelible effect. Like cinematic poetry. So many opportunities for extended conflicts and contrived drama is eschewed in favor of a shot that lingers for just a few moments, letting you know everything you need to.
The director really gets it. And because he gets it, the actors are free to act, all doing much better work than we're used to seeing. Saif steals the show. Othello, the play, needs Iago.
And Saif takes that ubermensch archetype and runs with it, from the broad strokes of the character, the obvious facets embodied in his physicality and his his presence, to the more subtle notes like that glimmer of lonely angst in his eyes. And he does it without ever trying to upstage anyone, or at least does a good job of giving that impression.
The birthday party scene, where he quietly begs for some sign of affection from anyone gathered and finds himself all alone, was touching in a surprising way - I've seen a lot of movies, and I think I even pride myself on not falling prey to the usual appeals to emotion; the same techniques that directors and actors use over and over again. But, this caught me off-guard. There's a level of depth to the verisimilitude and nuance that's hard to come by.
The role that music plays in all this is also amazing. Not surprising because the director, Vishal Bharadwaj, comes from an accomplished musical background. It rarely calls attention to itself and always seems to complement the visuals and action in perfect sync. A thing of beauty, really.
Anyway, reading what I've written so far, you might think that this movie is only for people who take movies too seriously, maybe. People who're very concerned with the technical aspects of it etc.
But, that's really not the case. It is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello, and it never strays too far from it's source. It's Shakespeare, that yardstick of universally applicable human experience.
I found myself relating to every character in the movie, even the minor ones. It engages you on a level that few movies ever do and does it without asking too much. Because there are no long monologues. The dialogue is succinct and apt. The visuals are always pretty, many of the frames like paintings taken by themselves. In other words, despite belonging to that post-Tarantino MTV generation, expecting constant stimulation and engagement to be provided to you instead of actively investing it, I had no trouble with this movie.
The film doesn't have the arrogance to ask you to sacrifice your viewing pleasure because it's Shakespeare and invest extra amounts of energy and attention. Without using the word in a bad way at all, there's plenty of entertainment here. And that's Shakespeare too.