Rorschach Movie Review: A subversive Mammootty performance elevates this innovative character experiment


Mammootty’s Rorschach Movie Review: Rorschach is all about structure. By structure, I mean the sequential assembly of story beats as well as the basic structure of derivative revenge as shown in our films over the years. The film breaks down the run-of-the-mill revenge logline into a meticulously thought-out dark meditation on the morality of despair that morphs into a remorseless strive for vengeance. The screenplay plays around with the familiar beats of the template and subverts the existing mainstays with tweaks in the narrative congruity and sequential design of events. The film is about a travelling loner who settles down in a half-constructed house in a village and the bond that he forms with the members of the locality and a grieving family (from the elder son’s unexpected death), a strangely assorted, self-centred lot, a fact revealed early on.

Sameer Abdula’s clever screenplay does not grope around in its surface intricacies and conveniences but relies on the unsaid word and derogatory glances that the characters share behind concealed looks and calls for help. For instance, Luke Anthony (Mammootty) comes across Sujatha (Grace Anthony) in a hospital scene in the former half. The writing in this scene feels so economic in setting up Luke’s attitude in approaching her for what he really wants and what he shows to be his real motive, which visibly disturbs her. This offhandedness in writing is punctuated nicely by Mammootty who makes Luke a despicably cunning version of a likable man, who keeps his cards close.

The director of the divisive sex ed PSA-like character drama Kettiyollanu Enthe Maalakha – Nisham Basheer cranks up the style quotient and suspense in his sophomore outing, which follows a more visually motivated narrative grammar. The filmmaking misguides our attention and the camera follows around Luke from Hayward’s perspectives and adds to the intrigue, as the film walks the tightrope of being the psychoanalysis of a vengeful protagonist and an intelligent subversion of the central plot device of pent-up personal revenge. There are beautifully juxtaposed and back-and-forth assembly of simultaneous scenes that are ordinary reveals on paper but the editing choices and visual cutaways add gravitas to the stakes and mood, that the film goes for in its tense sequences.

Check out the Rorschach trailer below:

Mammootty carries the mystery of the whole narrative and delivers an almost rough on the edges physical performance, a direct result of the mental state and constant back-and-forth psychic blackouts. The performance is nuanced and respects the mental state and abstract myth that is built around Luke by the people around him. Grace Anthony delivers yet another authentically graphed performance and looks convincing opposite Mammootty in the tense, confrontation scenes. Bindu Panicker delivers a delicately menacing performance as a helpless mother who is pulled into a world of deceit and excess by her two sons, only to have serious revelations in the latter half and she feels at the peak of her powers in the tense face-off scenes. Jagadeesh too gets a stoic, matured part that is a welcome departure from his stock parts that never demand anything from the actor.

Asif Ali gets an extended cameo and his presence serves as the major plot spoiler but his eerie, ghastly appearances elevate the element of dread and these are the portions where the film achieves its inbuilt dramatic possibilities. However, towards the final act, there are too many back-and-forths between characters in terms of major reversals that are a little too flashy and repetitive in places. Rorschach is the antithesis to the industry adage of the inherent limitation of the revenge sub-genre as a limited well to draw from; here we get a group of youngsters, innovatively placing a superstar actor in the middle of a conceptual experiment in the mainstream that deals with the moral consequences of revenge on screen.

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