One of the first features I saw at the VIFF this year was the Indian film In The Shadows. I left with a lot of mixed feelings about it that I still have.
The film begins with Khuddoos: a storekeeper and a loner in Old Delhi. He is distant from other people but prefers getting whatever closeness he can from them through surveillance cameras he has put up through the neighborhood. His only friend Ganeshi visits him on a daily basis. One day, he catches something of his interest. Next door lives a family with a 14 year-old boy named Idris or ‘Idu.’ He lives with his family consisting of his mother Saira, currently expecting her third child, and his father Liakat who owns a butcher shop. Liakat expects Idu to help with the business and do deliveries. However he wants to spend time talking with his friend Ginny who is lucky to attend school. When Saira learns he didn’t do the delivery expected and saw Ginny, she gives him money for Liakat to cover it up. When Liakat comes home, he eventually learns the truth and reacts violently to Idu. Khuddoos hears it through the wall. He is shocked from what he hears.
Both try to move on from that incident. Liakat apologizes to Idu and says he won’t do it again, but Idu doesn’t believe it. Meanwhile Khudoos can’t get the incident out of his mind. He tells Ganeshi about it. He knows how lax the police are about dealing with cases of abused children, but he’s determined to help. Life continues on for the two. Idu spends more time with Ginny and tells of his dream of escaping his father. Khuddoos manages his shop and tries to do business as usual. However the incident doesn’t leave Khuddoos’ mind. He even misses meet up with Idu by a few second.
Then it happens. Saira needs to give birth and Idu and his younger brother are the only ones there. But Liakat isn’t there. Idu has to do all the work. The doctors arrive too late. The baby dies. Both the father and the mother take it hard. However Idu feels it’s Liakats fault and isn’t afraid to say it in his face. Liakat reacts violently to which Idu responds back with violence. That leads Liakat to become even more violent. Khuddoos hears it and tries getting the police after the situation. The police are too slow to respond.
Idu has had it. He wants to run away. He’s fully convinced his father’s a monster. He tells Ginny, but Ginny mentions that he will miss him. Meanwhile Khuddoos does what he normally does; goes to the same restaurant to eat and gets drunk. The manager tries to boot him out for good because of his constant drunkenness, but Khuddoos tries to state his case, that he is hungry. Khuddoos knows he has to leave his seclusion behind. Soon Idu makes a break for the train station to finally leave Liakat behind, but the father spots him at the station. Upon returning home, Liakat says neither he nor Saira will be out of his sight.
Enough is enough. On a quiet night, Idu sees Liakat asleep. Idu smothers him. As he does, Khuddoos breaks through the walls. Liakat is dead. And Khuddoos goes into the room. Witnessing a photo, he wipes the dust off and sees the image of the boy. The others come across Khuddoos’ cameras in his hideout.
The film is intended to be a psychological drama. It’s a case of a man who’s cut himself off from the world but slowly comes back in once a domestic disturbance happens. I get how writer/director is trying to draw a connection with a man in self-seclusion, but the overall film didn’t make too much sense. It may be because of my expectations. I was expecting Khuddoos and Idu to meet, that Khuddoos would be the one who rescues Idu from any further harm. I’m sure most were expecting the same result. Somehow I can’t see the point of Khuddoos not meeting face to face with the boy as the ending drama unfolds. I’m sure the director had his reasons for having the story that way– that the two never meet — but it didn’t make a lot of sense. Jain could’ve simply made two films, or left the story of Idu on its own.
Despite the story being confusing, I do give credit for Manoj Bajpayee for portraying a character with a lot of personal demons who’s trying to break free from his own personal exile. I also give high marks for Om Singh portraying a boy who wants to break free from his own prison which isn’t in his mind. It’s at home. Shahana Goswami was also very good at portraying the mother in between it all.
In The Shadows is a psychological thriller that attempts to tell a two-in-one story, but it doesn’t entirely make too much sense in the end.
Okay, this is one of my delayed movie reviews. There will be three more to come. I saw it weeks before but I’m sure many of you could now see it in a second-run theatre before you can get the DVD or Netflix file.
Those of you who have seen the first Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr. only received one part of the story. Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows picks up where it left off. It’s not an adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes novel but an independent story of Sherlock Holmes that is able to entertain.
The movie is full of tricks, foiled killings and even successful incidents that lead Holmes to solve his next mystery. A bomb meant for Dr. Hoffmanstahl from Professor Moriarty is detonated. Adler is murdered by Moriarty who thinks she did it out of a love for Holmes. The murders and bombings surrounding Moriarty is part of Holmes’ next case.
Even Watson and his wife become part of this when Moriarty tells Holmes he killed Adler and the couple will be next if Holmes doesn’t stop. The couple is even attacked on a train by Moriarty’s men but Holmes, who followed them for protection, is able to foil the attackers and successfully protect the two. The two head to Paris to contact a gypsy who was to receive a letter from Adler. She becomes part of the detective team and leads them to an anarchist group she once belonged to only to learn of a plan to assassinate Moriarty via explosion. One search for a bomb lead to the wrong place. The bomb kills one of Moriarty’s business associates, allowing ownership to Moriarty of the businessman’s weapons factory in Germany.
Each clue leads the three-Sherlock, Watson and the gypsy- to the factory. There they are tortured by Moriarty and his men and learn of his plan to own weapons factories to profit out of a World War he plans to start. They’re able to break free thanks to Watson and flee onto a moving train. However Holmes senses that Moriarty may be planning an incident at a peace summit in Switzerland to cause an international uproar. At the summit, Holmes learns of the true assassin who is disguised as an ambassador. Both Holmes and Moriarty go outside to discuss to their associates their plans. Both Watson and the gypsy are able to stop one of Moriarty’s men from assassinating. Holmes later revealed he replaced Moriarty’s diary with the plans and able to get Watson’s wife to decrypt the code of Moriarty’s. Mary forwards the information to an Inspector who’s able to claim the bulk of Moriarty’s assets. This would lead to a physical confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty over a waterfall, which leads to a surprise ending.
A Game Of Shadows is partially influenced by A Final Problem, which is part of Arthur Conan Doyle’s series The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes but has been tailor made for the movie with a lot of twists and turns. It’s not necessary part of a chronological series but another story based on the characters. In fact the filmmakers intended for A Game Of Shadows to be a stand-alone film that did not require knowledge of the previous movie. The movie retains a lot of the charms of the first one but doesn’t seem to deliver the same thrills as the first. It does however maintain the same energy of humor as the first. Robert Downey Jr. is again able to keep the humor moviegoers will remember from the first. Jude Law, Rachel McAdams and Eddie Marsan also reprise their respective roles well too albeit for their brief time. The biggest new edition was Noomi Rapace as Simza the gypsy and she does a good job of her own at stealing scenes. The Mulroneys, Kieran and Michelle, did a good job in creating a humorous adventure with a lot of familiar thrills as the first but often felt like a maze that was confusing at times. Guy Ritchie did a good job in directing, if not the directing that stands out. Technically the sets and costumes were excellent in fitting the times. Even the guises worked well. And Hans Zimmer returned with a score that included parts of the original as well as some new material that fit the movie’s adventurous and humorous tone.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows faced the same pressures as any sequel. In the end, the movie lacked the same level as the first in terms of its best qualities. One thing is while most sequels or follow up movies often lose the first movie’s best qualities A Game Of Shadows was still able to keep the original’s best qualities, if not match the original’s same level. Fans of the first will appreciate A Game Of Shadows and movie goers in general will find it a good relaxing time at the movies.