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Irul Review: A Familiar Premise, a Familiar Disappointment

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Director: Naseef Yusuf Izuddin

Cast: Soubin Shahir, Darshana Rajendran, Fahadh Faasil

Naseef Yusuf Izuddin’s Irul possesses a strange pace. It begins like a sleepy haze. In fact, Alex Parayil (Soubin Shahir) wakes up from a nightmare, one that ended with a gunshot. He’s missed a few calls from Archana (Darshana Rajendran), his lady friend, and tries reaching her all morning. His mind spins as fast as his bicycle wheels as he tries to get hold of her even during workout. A recently published writer of a serial killer novel, Alex is so tired of how busy Archana is in her work (she is a lawyer) that he makes a weekend getaway plan with her, somewhere far from civilisation and without a mobile phone and the internet. It’s the stupidest plan but if you want to be further invested in the film, you have to go along with it.

The dynamic between Archana and Alex and their relationship isn’t clear at this point but the prologue sows some questionable seeds. From here, the predictable outcomes unfold – day becomes night, rains start lashing, the car bends around mountainous terrain and eventually breaks down. They seek help and shelter in a nondescript house nearby, seemingly unoccupied.

And then Irul – written by Sunil Yadav with additional screenplay from Abhiram Radhakrishnan, Anaz Bin Ibrahim, Obeth S Thomas and Naseef – picks up. Naseef also has a few flourishes up his sleeve. Every character, at different points, gets their own scene standing in front of a mirror. We see Archana in front of three mirrors, the three characters still unknown entities to us. We meet the man of the house – Fahadh Faasil, unnamed till a point – and the couple seek his help.

All the usual cliches crop up – he doesn’t own a mobile phone because he isn’t accustomed to it and the landline is dead. It’s a little too casual how Archana changes into a dress she finds in the house. Aren’t their bags in the car? Why can’t she and Alex go get them? Maybe Naseef wants us to see Archana as the lady in red, what with all the other imagery in the lavish house. Surprising to no one in particular, the man they meet has read Alex’s book and a single take has them discussing the nuances, the murders, the serial killer’s mind and psychology behind the act.

The lines are all ordinary but Naseef blocks the actors around the dining room and has them and the camera moving constantly. The character’s eyes sometimes don’t reveal that the one they are talking to is moving around the space, we find out only when the camera pans across. It is neat. It preludes the three-way confusion, the lack of trust in these constantly mutating characters and how they think. The final interesting touch in Irul before it falls apart.

The central thesis of that scene’s debate is curiosity. The curiosity of the serial killer, not his perversions. While the technique is worth appreciating, it lacks the emotional impact. So, this curiosity that Naseef and his co-writers want us to drown in doesn’t cross the bridge towards us, the audience. The film built up curiosity till about 20 minutes in. From there on, it is simply a straight ride to see where it all ends.

For a film that runs just 90 minutes, it is hardly a good look. The film comes undone thereabouts and leaves us cold. We get jump scares and there is a gun that changes hands. Motivations are questioned and, out of nowhere, Alex begins to behave differently. For the three talented actors, the film is a walk in the park. Unfortunately for us, it is an arduous crawl.

*****

The Irul review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreenindia.com and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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