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Film Review: Ennennum (2023) by Shalini Ushadevi

"If a story does not end, how do you know if it's good or bad?"

11 years after her directorial debut, came back with a science fiction drama which was screened at the 28th International Film Festival of Kerala 2023. Her first movie, thriller “” (2012), was presented at 13 film festivals, including the Shanghai International Film Festival, the Dubai International Film Festival, and the Lund International Fantastic Film Festival. Since then, she created both fiction and non-fiction screenplays in many languages – Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, and English as well. In 2022, she received the National Award for Best Screenplay for the film “Soorarai Pottru” (2020).

The narrative of “Ennennum” revolves around a married couple, Ouso () and Devi (). They debate whether to become immortal by trying out a technological innovation in the form of a peculiar implant. At the insistence of a salesman, Jeeva (), they agree to a three-day trial period to experience this new, and expansive, technology.

The movie initially delves into the philosophical implications of immortality, but after a while the main topic changes and starts to concentrate on the power dynamic of the main characters' relationship. There are also instances of social and political commentary, as Jeeva talks about losing his job if the trial goes wrong, or when Ouso talks about “the party” his late brother was the leader of.

“Ennennum” raises interesting questions about the concept of immortality, especially through the character of Devi who says: “If a story does not end, how do you know if it's good or bad?” – this line expresses the film's central dilemma and invites the audience to reflect on the idea of an eternal life. Shalini Ushadevi decided to convey a lot of content through a minimalist approach, as the movie features very few characters, and the setting is limited to the couple's home. The director's approach creates an intimate atmosphere that intensifies the emotional and psychological depth of the protagonists. This choice not only underscores the isolation felt by the characters but also draws the viewer's attention to the nuanced performances and the evolving dynamics between them.

The aesthetic of the movie is very measured, slick and still, with mostly static camera. The expressive means used by the cinematographer, Sreekanth Sivaswamy, emphasize the dystopian unease associated with using technology that goes against human nature, as well as the development of the plot and the growing distance between the spouses.

The acting in the film is also of a high standard. Both Anoop Mohandas and Santhy Balachandran effectively embody their characters and portray the changes in their relationship. However, Ajithlal Shivalal delivers a standout performance, serving as the cornerstone of the film's sense of angst from the moment he appears on-screen.

In conclusion, “Ennennum” is a thought-provoking exploration of human relationships and the ethical dilemmas posed by technological advancements. Shalini Ushadevi's minimalist approach, combined with good performances and evocative cinematography, creates an intimate picture. Despite its ambitious thematic scope, the film sometimes feels as though it has bitten off more than it can chew, as it doesn't fully explore the themes it presents.

About the author

Tobiasz Dunin

I'm from Poland and I work as an editor. To be honest, I'm not sure how I got interested in Asian cinema or Asia in general, but I started watching movies pretty late - only when I started college. Since then, I watched a lot of films, and visited a few festivals, which I absolutely love doing. When it comes to what movies I like, I try to keep an open mind, but I generally avoid horrors, musicals and documentaries.

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