Review: '2018' is a triumph in filmmaking & a bigger achievement in engaging you in a way, films rarely do
'You need to, absolutely freaking need to watch this film' - this sentence is usually an emotion, that might qualify for 2018 more than any other in recent times.
'You need to, absolutely freaking need to watch this film' - this sentence is usually an emotion that has become rarer in the last few years than ever. We get those big event films that cannot be missed, we get those hidden gems on OTT - but the whole idea of having a film that legitimately cannot be missed in all ways possible in a theatre has witnessed a scarcity in the utmost sense these days. Then comes a film like 2018 - that manages to wow you, disturb you, immerse you, make you cry, make you hope for humanity as you leave the cinema with tears in your eyes and a heavy heart.
Based on the devastating 2018 Kerala floods, this survival thriller film has already wowed one and all in its original language of Malayalam and now, the Hindi dubbed version arrives to reach a wider audience.
While it might seem rather evident already but having had the chance to see the film beforehand, here is my piece on what makes 2018, which in essence is just another survival thriller film, so special and so different-
The Perfect Build-up
What a masterstroke it is by director Jude Anthany Joseph, who also writes the screenplay with Akhil P. Dharmajan to divide the instances leading to the floods in the first half and the actual catastrophe in the second half. It might seem simple but the screenplay is woven with such impeccable intricacy that it gives just the right amount of breathing space as your mind is half-prepared of what is to arrive in the second half and the challenges your mind and attention will face while keeping you on the edge-of-the-seat.
The film's tagline is 'Everybody is a Hero' and it couldn't have been more pronounced. There are multiple storylines that are presented and just in the right amount to have you invested in each and everyone of them. Even though you have the popular face of Tovino Thomas as Anoop in the story, there is so much going on with so many characters, that you want to know and be feel for each and everyone of them and the fate they achieve. The build-up from the first half sets you fantastically for the heart pounding second-half and there couldn't have been a better call.
The References & The Hero Moments
Even in a film so real and raw, considering it is based on true events, the filmmaking craft doesn't take a backseat. There are some amazing little references and Easter eggs in the first half somehow getting you prepared for what lies ahead. Be it kids watching cartoons where a flood scene comes on and they are laughing on it or be it subtext of a couple of storylines where a few characters ridicule the others, who are fishermen owing to their financial status and profession - only to be saved by them during the time of floods. It is such smart filmmaking where it satisfies the filmy nerd in you while not deviating from the actual storyline.
I mentioned above how inspite of having Thomas, the popular figure in the film, there are so many storylines to be involved in. And while that is true, Joseph doesn't miss out on giving the hero some real and justified 'hero moments' as well. He manages to strike the rare and seemingly impossible balance of exhibiting the craft, giving some surreal hero moments and at the same time, keeping everything else and real.
You cannot not talk about the sheer excellence of the technical department and every member attached to making this film. Be it Akhil George's stupendous cinematography in showcasing the gloominess in the build-up and the absolute carnage in the second-half, or be it the VFX by Mindstein Studios in scenes where you will be wowed; be it the unfathomably fantastic production design by Mohandas or be it the exhilarating and adrenaline rousing background score and music by Nobin Paul - each and every department deserves the highest form of applause and special mentions.
Add to that, a massive ensemble cast where there is an array of protagonists led by the ever dependable and affable Tovino Thomas, and the likes of actors Lal as Mathachan and Asif Ali as Nikson among others, who leave a lasting impact.
There have been instances where an already incredibly hyped or acclaimed film hasn't necessarily received the same love across the country as it did in its original language. I don't see that happening with 2018 in any way. I have to admit the Hindi dubbed version, just like any other dubbed version does become a tad jarring in a few scenes where the expression isn't actually matching the words but even then, that factor isn't even a factor to keep you from watching this film.
If you are one of those people who watches 1-2 films in theaters in the whole year, this film should be one of them, and if you are just a buff who likes watching movies in general, this should definitely be on your viewing list.
Rating - ****1/2 (4.5/5)