I Love You Movie Review: A riveting dive into the darker side of love
If the adept direction and performances are solid strengths, then so are the slick and realistic action sequences and metaphorical references that mark a well-rounded finish
The words 'I Love You' has more power than we know. It has the power to change a life, the world, and entire existences. Of course, it is not all rosy, and it can be the source of misery. JioCinema's latest, I Love You delves deep into the darker side of love to explore the abyss of pain, perfidy, and psychopathy, which for once reminds us of the ultimate power of an I...
Director: Nikhil Mahajan
Cast: Rakul Preet Singh, Pavail Gulati and Akshay Oberoi
Streaming on JioCinema
The 90-minute film gets us hooked right from its first shot; Rakul's Satya holds her breath underwater for almost a minute and a half, and it makes us feel suffocated, and we can't wait for her to rise above. Rakul effectively plays a smart and successful corporate executive who is all set to begin her love life with her fiance and co-worker, Vishal, played by a competent Akshay Oberoi. We also have Satya's charming work friend Rakesh Oberoi, aka RO, played by a superb Pavail Gulati. He is a know-it-all tech geek, who is a lovely friend doling out heart-shaped candies to help Satya relieve stress. All is well till the lovely, ever-smiling Ro unleashes his psychotic side when he traps the couple inside the office campus overnight to fight for and win his love. And he goes really far to listen to those three words... even if it takes a few murders to get there.
Although I Love You is a straightforward romantic thriller, which predominantly focuses on Satya's tryst with the 'love' torture and escaping from the clutches of RO, the filmmaking makes all the difference. The thoughtful staging and the blocking of several scenes in a confined location offer us a perfect thrilling experience. Kudos to filmmaker Nikhil for weaving a riveting narrative that reflects clarity in intent and execution. He leaves several breadcrumbs from the start, which add intricate detailing to the characters, their motives, and their actions, and the trail leads us to a poignant yet power-packed climax.
Another commendable aspect of I Love You is the layered characterisation of RO and the gripping performance that justifies the writing. For instance, in a few initial scenes, RO is involved in extremely creepy and unlawful activities that intrude on one's privacy. But from his POV, he's the hero of his story, and he even wears a T-shirt that says 'Protagonist' on it. We also see RO talking to a Goldfish in a glass bowl on his work desk. And there are multiple ways the goldfish finds itself in the centre of the narrative, and each time it plays out differently.
In such a genre film, the usage of the cute and psycho trope too is a done-and-dusted trope. However, the makers focus on getting the minute elements right to give this familiar tale a convincing twist and compelling engagement. Although the makers have attempted to subvert the tropes, the core idea is still generic even if the taut runtime ensures the film is precisely packed with the right amount of thrills and romance. Probably, the film did need breathing space for elaborate world-building and rising above the limitations of settings, time, and characters.
Just like Pavail, who seems to be reinventing himself with each film, Rakul too taps into her potential to cement her status as a meritorious performer. There are a few scenes that demand her to accurately hit the fluctuating emotional notes, and she aces it with her metered expressions and succinct dialogue delivery.
What really works in favour of I Love You is its focus on delivering unexpected and impactful jump scares that are a testament to the brilliant setups in the film. If the adept direction and performances are solid strengths, then so are the slick and realistic action sequences and metaphorical references that mark a well-rounded finish. For instance, in one of the most spellbinding scenes, Satya takes on the underwater challenge once again and this time, we don't want her to rise above this time but just have all the power to endure. Moments like this strike gold, and make us root for the characters.
As the credits roll, we think of the various metaphors employed in the film like cages, clutches, fishbowls, goldfish, gym weights, and a lot more. The metaphors notwithstanding the film also acts as a distinctive commentary on the abusive power of love, and makes us think of how those three words are heavily charged. Yes, I Love You can change a life, the world, and even existences, but... it is not always for the better... right?