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O2 Movie Review Nayanthara Hotstar: Suffocating beyond a point- Cinema express

O2 Movie Review: Suffocating beyond a point

This Nayanthara-starrer has a potential premise but 'landslides' itself

Published: 17th June 2022

A mother going to any extent for her child is not just one of the oldest plot engines of our films, but also the most universal of all. The latest to join this burgeoning list of 'Amma sentiment'-based Tamil films is the Nayanthara-fronted O2. The mother sentiment angle being incorporated into the backdrop of a natural calamity is a smart move.

Cast: Nayanthara, Rithvik, Barath Neelakantan

Director: GS Viknesh

Streaming on: Disney + Hotstar

Nayanthara's Parvathy is introduced as a tutor who knows a thing or two about the sensory system of plants. You might think, why a job like this? Because foreshadowing. A widow, she lives with her son Veera, who has cystic fibrosis. The condition requires the kid to have constant oxygen support. It's an inherited disease, the late diagnosis of which caused the death of her husband.

Parvathy and her son are en route to Kochi for his treatment. Parallelly, we are also introduced to a few characters. One is an innocent convict, who is out of jail after 14 years. A couple are planning to elope despite the girl's father being on the same bus. Then there's an Ex-MLA and his assistant. Finally, to spice up things we also have an evil cop involved in shady drug deals. And it is this eclectic bunch that becomes co-passengers in a bus that is headed for trouble.

The conflict arrives in the form of a massive landslide that buries the bus they are travelling in. Now, you might think this is fertile ground for a riveting rescue drama. But no. The film's gaze is shifted towards the survivors. The desperation to survive pushes them to extremes. It is again a very potential premise, but the narrative choices to focus more on interpersonal dynamics bring the film down. Jaffer Idukki is excellent with his performance but why would someone gasping for breath, clutch on to misplaced pride? Investing more time in such proceedings ends up testing our patience.

Amidst their attempts to survive, the group realises that they are running short of oxygen. Parvathy is the scholar among them, and she calculates how much time is left for them. Upon hearing this, the already-evil drug-addled cop kills someone to buy more time. His eyes next lay on the kid's oxygen tank, which wakes up the lioness. Rest you can imagine.

The weakest link in the film is the cop character played by filmmaker Barath Neelakantan. It's a poorly written role without any nuances whatsoever. He is outrightly evil, and that's all about him. Whenever the camera focuses on him, an ominous score accompanies it. He gives cold stares at strangers for no reason. He tells random kutti stories. But why? One of the most heartening moments in the film is when Aadukalam Murugadoss' character slaps him in between one of his 'oru oorla..' stories. It's high time censors ban these 'oru oorla....' stories.

O2 is a treasure trove of such cliches. Child actor Rithvik's performance is effective but I wish the character behaved his age and not mouth lengthy dialogues. Be it Nayanthara or mother nature, they take the most ruthless form when threatened. But the writing is too predictable with excessive exposition. There are too many logical loopholes as well. Even when everyone else (including the viewer in me) feels the suffocation, Nayanthara is hardly moved. It's only towards the end that she feels the pressure and by that time, we start losing interest.

In any survival story, the key is to have the audience at the edge of their seat and make us feel for them. O2 falters here. Neither does it keep us engaged throughout nor does it have an emotional connection. Director GS Viknesh's debut attempt had the potential to be something brimming with life but uninventive writing and resorting to cliches buries it.

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