Antony Movie Review: Overfamiliarity breeds fatigue

Antony Movie Review: Overfamiliarity breeds fatigue

Antony works more as an audition reel of Joju's formidable screen presence than a wholesomely entertaining movie 
Rating:(1.5 / 5)

Imagine asking for a biryani and getting a frozen, stale, gross-looking biryani made decades ago. Imagine asking for mango juice and getting a shake with mango ice cream instead. Imagine asking for chicken (or beef) curry and then not getting the pieces. Imagine asking for pure water and getting... I could go on and on, but I want to stop before I conjure up some of the most absurd visuals imaginable to convey the degrees of disappointment I felt while watching Joshiy's latest actioner, Antony.

Director: Joshiy
Cast: Joju George, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Chemban Vinod Jose, Nyla Usha

Was it that bad, you might ask? Where do I even begin? I've only commenced the review, and I'm already yawning at the thought of writing a long review to explain why it's so underwhelming an experience. You know what? I'm not going to write a long review. I don't have the energy for it. What's the point of writing a long piece about a film with hardly one or two positives?

Overfamiliarity breeds fatigue -- that's Antony in a nutshell. It has tropes, themes, situations, characters, and milieu that we have seen way too many times, and Joshiy's filmography bears witness to a major chunk of it. It's one of those movies that would've probably worked in the 80s or 90s but appears way past its expiry date. Circling vendetta, redemption, thugs with a heart of gold, timely protectors of women, guardians of daughters, friendly priests... Haven't we seen these already? What made Joshiy think that there's some novelty to be found there?

Porinju Mariam Jose (PMJ) was a return to form for the veteran of 'mass' entertainers -- even if it didn't match up to the classics he made at the peak of his career. What worked to its advantage was a degree of restraint maintained there, and it was relatively grittier in comparison. Antony, on the other hand, reeks of artificiality from the get-go. It works more as an audition reel of Joju's formidable screen presence, body language, and dialogue delivery than a wholesomely entertaining movie. Joju and Chemban are the only actors in Antony who talk like real people. The rest? Sigh.

As I said earlier, Antony would've had more takers if made in the 80s or 90s, preferably with a different supporting cast. What if it featured Mukesh, Jagadish, Ganesh, Thilakan and Babu Antony instead of the names it has now? I bet it would make for at least a worthy one-time watch. The problem with trying to recreate the glory of the action entertainers of a bygone era today is we don't have actors as compelling and watchable as those we had back then in the smaller parts. How long can charismatic actors Joju, Chemban (who earns genuine laughs in a couple of places), Nyla, and Vijayaraghavan hold something together with the kind of lacklustre script and emotionless dialogues given to not just them but the entire cast? This unremarkable, bland quality extends to Jakes Bejoy's score and Renadive's cinematography.

As for Kalyani -- after seeing her kick some major a** in the early fight scenes, most notably in a kickboxing tournament, I expected to see more of that in the latter portions, but unfortunately, that didn't happen. Moreover, the one-dimensional portrayal of her character doesn't help. We don't spend enough time with her to make her a character we can root for, aside from the basic knowledge about the fate of her parents and the role that Joju plays in her life. That said, one can't dismiss a few satisfyingly cathartic situations where Joju and Kalyani use their fists to teach some lessons to a few distasteful characters. But, again, when the rest of the material is so tiringly predictable, what's the point?

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