Movie Review: '2018' a supremely inspiring masterpiece

2018 is an Indian Malayalam-language survival thriller film directed by Jude Anthany Joseph

'2018' promotional poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)
'2018' promotional poster (Photo Courtesy: IMDb)

Subhash K Jha

To make a film so profoundly moving on the 2018 cataclysmic floods in Kerala is not an easy task. Director Jude Anthony Joseph has managed the impossible—he has converted a natural disaster into a cinematic symphony of trauma and healing .

Every character, no matter how big or small, is etched in vivid colours, and no matter how insignificant a gesture of kindness may seem from the outside, every helping hand is contoured with compassion.

True, the cornucopia of characters is initially daunting, even to those who are familiar with Malayalam actors, the outflow of population gets unmanageable, and at times the ‘mellow-drama’ descends into melodrama. However, once the actual story kicks in, there is much to appreciate and applaud as a flood of dexterously crafted heart-in-the-mouth episodes, and moments where it is hard to hold back our tears. 

The first rule of a successful survival drama is that the crisis at hand should hold the audiences captive till the last shred of emotion is exhausted. 2018 builds its drama on a solid foundation—it has at its disposal a slew of super-talented actors—none more so than the incredibly charming Thomas Tovino who brings to his ex-soldier’s role an exceptional rhythm and grace. The way his do-gooder character Anoop spreads his goodness out into nature’s fury is comforting and inspiring.

However, Tovino is not alone in his heroic positioning in the plot. The wrath of nature and the compassion of human nature, is eloquently depicted by the truck driver Sethupathi, played by a superbly nuanced Kalaiyarasanm, who reforms from a self-seeking nomad to a home loving family man .

The most well written roles are those played by the magnificent Lal as the brash but benevolent patriarch of a fishing family, and his sons played by a likeable Asif Ali and Narain, who use their skills in the ocean to fight the ferocity of the floods.

The sore point, if at all, is that the female actors are submerged in this tale of masculine bravery. I wish the screenplay—by Jude Anthany Joseph and Akhil Dharmajan—had more breathing space and less characters. There are so many people crowding the canvas that sometimes it feels like the director has bitten more than he can chew.

The sheer enormity of the vision and the recreation of the floods in all its raging fury, will take your breath away. The cinematography (Akhil George) captures the calamity with equanimity while the editing (Chaman Chakko) makes you wonder what’s been left out.

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