Uncle Review: Mammootty's best film since Munnariyippu
This is a film that comes along at the right time and addresses a very relevant issue
As a film reviewer the last thing you want to do after watching the film of an actor you greatly admire is write a negative review for one of his films. But you have to be honest about what you just saw, and this was the case with my review of Mammootty's Parole, which came out few weeks back.
Cast: Mammootty, Karthika Muralidharan, Joy Mathew, Muthumani
Director: Girish Damodar
And so, before entering the theatre to watch Uncle, I was badly hoping that this wouldn't be another dud. Imagine my relief when that wish finally came true. I'm happy to report that Uncle is not only good, but also it's Mammootty's best film in a long while (since 2014's Munnariyippu). We finally have a Mammootty film that manages to effectively remove the bad aftertaste left behind by his recent films.
Here at last is a character that perfectly suits both Mammootty's personality and age; a role that's tailor-made for him. His Krishna Kumar is a rich and dashing middle-aged divorcee who drives a Mercedes SUV (which he is attached to more than anything else in his life), and was known to be something of a playboy in his college days (his name being Krishna, he doesn't need a nickname). Even though we are told he is so and so, we can still sense a small aura of mystery around him.
Written by actor-screenwriter Joy Mathew, the script doesn't waste any time setting up the story or introducing Mammootty's character. In fact, he appears right after the opening credits, picking up a young girl Shruthi (Karthika Muralidharan) who is looking for a ride after her college is shut down on account of a major strike. Incidentally, Shruthi knows Krishna: he is a close buddy of her dad's. The whole film then becomes a long road trip which takes place over the course of half a day.
But not all the scenes are confined to the interiors of Krishna's SUV. The film shifts between Krishna and Shruthi's conversations, the home of Shruthi's concerned parents (played wonderfully by Joy Mathew and Muthumani), and the home of Krishna's buddies (who sing paeans to his remarkable ability of ensnaring beautiful women even at this age). And it's the last two elements that turn the film into a small Hitchcockian suspense drama (Krishna slightly evokes Joseph Cotten from Shadow of a Doubt).
The testimonials from Krishna's friends, as well as the tiny flashbacks giving you an idea of his glowing charisma, are enough to plant the seeds of doubt in your mind. And once you get to the moderately intense ending, you know the film has succeeded because you've been turned into another suspecting member of the supporting cast. And just like he did in Munnariyippu, Mammootty once again succeeds in conveying his character's ambiguity with subtle tics and eye movements. In the middle of all this is a small sub-plot involving a man waiting for his wife to deliver their first child. Though it may seem insignificant at first, it makes more sense in the final act.
Uncle is a film that comes along at the right time. It addresses an issue that is relevant in this day and age, with its story filtered through the prism of the 'me too' movement and the multiple instances of sexual violence that are being reported every single day. And it fearlessly calls out the hypocrisies of today's self-appointed guardians of morality.