Review: "Merry Christmas" (2024) - Sriram Raghavan's Cinematic Alchemy Unfolds with Enigmatic Brilliance
Sriram Raghavan's "Merry Christmas," starring Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sethupathi, navigates the realms of suspense with a spellbinding narrative that intrigues even as it confounds.
Masterful Cinematic Display:
Renowned for his prowess in pitch-dark thrillers, director Sriram Raghavan steps into the nuanced territories of the unhurried and urgent, the philosophical and provocative in "Merry Christmas." This dual-version thriller ingeniously adapts Frederic Dard's crime fiction, offering a blend of sophistication and vibrancy.
Unveiling the Plot:
The film unfolds with a split-screen introduction of seemingly ordinary yet symbolically charged mixer-grinders, hinting at concealed complexities. Set against the 1980s backdrop of Bombay's Christian community, "Merry Christmas" delves into the intricate dynamics of love, loyalty, and betrayal. Raghavan, along with co-writers Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, and Anukriti Pandey, scatters clues that gain significance as the narrative progresses.
Twists and Ethical Probes:
Navigating through a Christmas-eve 'romance' between an unhappily married mother and a mysterious loner, the film embraces Hitchcockian twists and a Rohmerian unsentimental moral exploration. The film's measured pace, coupled with controlled momentum, heightens anticipation and foreboding, keeping the audience captivated.
Artistry in Cinematography:
Madhu Neelakandan, the director of photography, infuses a touch of magic into residential interiors and cityscapes, creating a festive yet enigmatic ambiance. Katrina Kaif delivers a compelling performance, portraying a range of emotions with occasional glimpses of unwavering determination. Vijay Sethupathi relies on expressions to capture the internal turmoil of his character.
"Merry Christmas" takes viewers on an inventive cinematic journey, utilizing a soundscape reminiscent of 1980s Hindi cinema and a color palette that transports audiences. The film's exploration of loneliness and the consequences of lost love unfolds through the backstories of Maria and Albert, engaging viewers on a quest for redemption.
Rich Characters and Stellar Performances:
While the primary focus is on Kaif and Sethupathi, "Merry Christmas" ensures that secondary characters contribute significantly to the narrative. Tinnu Anand's neighborly gesture, along with appearances by Luke Kenny, Sanjay Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Pratima Kannan, and Ashwini Kalsekar, weaves a rich tapestry of characters.
Intriguing, thought-provoking, and subtly challenging, "Merry Christmas" stands as a testament to Sriram Raghavan's directorial finesse. The film captivates in moments of both clarity and ambiguity. With a commendable rating of 3.5/5, "Merry Christmas" emerges as a thriller that not only grabs attention but also lingers in the viewer's mind, showcasing the magic of Raghavan's storytelling.
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