‘Lilli’ review: A violent, visceral thriller, where the script is just an afterthought

The actors rise to the occasion, each one delivering a sincere performance, but the flawed script lets them down.
‘Lilli’ review: A violent, visceral thriller, where the script is just an afterthought
‘Lilli’ review: A violent, visceral thriller, where the script is just an afterthought
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You can’t say it was shocking. The movie had been quite clear about carrying violent content. Lilli was not going to be a fairy tale. But then it didn’t seem to have any tale to tell at all. It’s like the makers decided there should be a movie with some violence and later, said let’s think of a story that will fit in there somewhere.

Pregnant Lilli (Samyuktha Menon) gets a call in the middle of the night – something has happened to her husband Ajith. So at 3 in the morning, she takes her car out. You have your usual questions then – why didn’t she call someone, why would she drive without clearly hearing anything? But you can reason she would have got tense, fearing the worst for her husband, and drove into the night without giving it any other thought.

The disconnect, however, begins there. You know there is a movie going on, but it seems like a pointless sequence of events, just so Lilli could be taken to a deserted location and the ‘promised’ violence could begin.

She’s abducted by three men, led by actor Kannan Nayar. They take her to an abandoned building in a deserted area. The men are in it for the money, but one of them called Rajesh also has lecherous interests. Philip, the third guy, is the softie; he worries about hurting a pregnant woman.

But they don’t seem to be in a hurry. They wait till Lilli wakes up and say they want to know something. Before hearing what it is, Lilli says she doesn’t know anything. You’d think she’d want to know why she was taken away like this, what these men calling her by name would like to know? The disconnection grows.

The men then show her a photo of a little girl. They want to know where she is. Lilli repeats her line.

There is a parallel story happening during Lilli’s abduction. A man who hit an old judge is on the run. We follow him as he tries to meet a journalist and runs away, getting Lilli’s abandoned phone with a video clipping in it. At the end of the movie, you don’t really know why this parallel story was there at all.

And then, nails and iron rods pierce bodies and blood spurts everywhere. And pregnant Lilli’s water breaks. Samyuktha Menon is convincing as a pregnant woman – the slow movements, the pain evident on her face and body, the difficulty to sit or stand. It is only her lines that are flawed, but you can blame that on the little-worked-on script.

Actors have more or less done their part well, including the man on the run. It is just that the plot is so thin, bound over and over that idea of violence, that they have little to do. At some point, the director – Prasobh Vijayan – weaves in a flashback to show where Lilli and her husband come from. A story that seems to have come as an afterthought.

The violence is not the issue here, but the pointlessness of everything around it is. You don’t feel for the woman whose character has been made for you to feel bad about. The back story is not strong. The lead up to it is not thrilling. The violence itself is casual. Strike one, two, three.

Debutant Prasobh has got something right – his choice of actors, for instance. His choice of technicians too – Appu Bhattathiri on the editing table does well. He just needs to find stronger scripts to put them all to better use.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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