Kilometers and Kilometers Movie Review: Tovino's endearing presence makes this film watchable
A two-hour film which could have been made tighter by taking out 15 to 30 minutes
Kilometers & Kilometers is a reference to a comic scene from Priyadarshan's iconic Malayalam comedy Mazha Peyyunnu Madhalam Kottunnu, starring Mohanlal and Sreenivasan. Like Mohanlal's character, Josemon (Tovino Thomas) struggles with English — whatever he utters in the language comes out disjointed and funny. However, his financial difficulties remind us of another iconic Mohanlal character: Dasan from Nadodikkattu.
Director: Jeo Baby
Cast: Tovino Thomas, India Jarvis, Joju George, Basil Joseph
Premiered on: Asianet
This is the third Tovino film — after Theevandi and And the Oscar Goes To — to open with a newborn baby. I wonder if this is some sort of good luck charm. We learn that Josemon is a man who does odd jobs and that his father owned a Royal Enfield Bullet. After his father's passing, the boy becomes so attached to the two-wheeler that the thought of parting with it is unbearable for him. But the complaining moneylenders and his sister's college fees force him to consider selling the bike for good. He changes his mind when an opportunity comes knocking in the form of an American woman named Kathy (India Jarvis). She is looking for a driver who can take her all around India. As he needs the money, he reluctantly agrees.
Josemon and Kathy have two completely opposite personalities, and they don't get along. She is not bothered, though. All she cares about is her own well-being. She doesn't believe in relationships or the concept of toiling for the welfare of one's family, something which Josemon finds unacceptable. "It's not Indian culture," he tells her. Much of the humour comes from interactions like these, which evoke films like Kilukkam and, to some extent, Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon.
We also get a few laughs when, in the film's earlier portions, Kathy begins questioning the way Indians live. When she wonders why people in Tamil Nadu waste milk on movie banners, he says, "This is quite normal here." He says the same thing when she also asks why some people defecate out in the open. And since he carries around this English guide with him, he has this tendency to repeat certain phrases which annoys her. She also forces him to dispose of the waste in a roadside bin. (Perhaps India would be a much cleaner place had more people like India visited the country more often.)
Things get predictable when we learn that Kathy may not be that detached as we initially assumed. I don't think I have to fill you in on the rest. After a certain point, the needlessly stretched conversations, especially when Sidhartha Siva's character enters the picture, begin to wear one out.
Kilometers & Kilometers won't seem so new for those who have already seen a fair amount of films about two warring characters going on a road trip before. This is a two-hour film which could have been made tighter by taking out 15 to 30 minutes. If there's one thing that keeps the film going, it's Tovino's endearing presence and his occasionally hilarious dialogue delivery. Joju George and Basil Joseph make short, but notable appearances. But even they can only do so much in a thin script.