Don Palathara's 'Family' unmasks hidden realities, tosses crucial question | Movie Review

Family posters. Photo: IMDb

Don Palathara’s 'Family', featuring Vinay Forrt in the lead, was premiered at the 52nd International Film Festival of Rotterdam on 28th January 2023. A year later, the film has now made its way to the theatres, leaving viewers in an eerie silence and a sense of confinement despite being featured in the picturesque hilly landscapes of Kerala. The story introduces Sony (Vinay Forrt), a seemingly ordinary and kind-hearted man in his late 20s. However, subtle hints from the beginning raise questions about Sony's character.

As the movie unfolds, the audience gradually becomes aware of an underlying unease. The portrayal of small families in the village showcases their close-knit relationships and active participation in each other’s lives. However, beneath this facade of camaraderie lies a community filled with pride and concealed dark secrets. Throughout the film, the audience comes to understand that the people within this 'family' are concealing disturbing truths, driven by their pride and shame, thus disclosing the unsettling mysteries hidden within.

The movie begins by highlighting the presence of a tiger roaming the village, which has already claimed a few victims. While the distant view of a tiger may appear trivial, it prompts a deeper question - who truly is the ultimate predator?

Upon immersing yourself in the movie's setting, you discover a dark and suffocating world. It stimulates a sense of helplessness, where one feels unheard and oppressed despite efforts to voice out. The film intricately weaves together elements such as family ties, religion, and societal gender dynamics. However, what truly sets the movie apart is its masterful subtlety, requiring the audience to pause and reflect on the intricacies presented.

Don Palathara deserves praise for addressing such a delicate subject matter with authenticity. The film minimally relies on background scores, instead, incorporating authentic sounds of nature like crickets and frogs, creates a realistic atmosphere. Through the use of static shots, the movie implies that what is visible is just a fraction of the whole picture, suggesting that there is much more transpiring beyond the confines of each frame.

Vinay Forrt's depiction of Sony is undeniably genuine, radiating a subtle yet unsettling sense of sociopathy. His portrayal prompts a visceral reaction of repulsion. Supported by talented actors like Nilja K. Baby, Divya Prabha, Abhija Sivakala, and Mathew Thomas, each character seamlessly integrates into the system, whether by choice or circumstance, perpetuating its norms. Even the slightest attempt to voice dissent is swiftly silenced.

Despite being set in a small corner of Kerala, the themes explored in the film resonate globally, demanding attention and discussion. Its impact lingers long after viewing, leaving audiences unsettled. However, it is essential for people to watch this film, given its exploration of important issues and its unique cinematic approach.

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