Saturday, April 20, 2019

Vellai Pookal - Tremble in the Water Chilly

Image result for vellai pookal poster

Vellai Pookal
(White Flowers)
Director: Vivek Elangovan

Vivekh - Rudhran
Charle - Bharati
Paige Henderson - Alice
Dev - Ajay
Pooja Devariya - Ramya
Tyler Roy Roberts - Jeff

Mohan's Measure: ✳ ✳ ✳ ✳ 

The bittersweet poem, "The Lady of Shallot", tells the story of a lady cursed to remain in a high tower unable to look down from her window, the mere vision of Camelot her end.  A double-edged sword which is allegorical for Alice, the femme fatale of this well-made whodunit directed by first time director and former Microsoft Employee, Mr. Elangovan.

Based on true events, Vellai Pookal explores the dysfunctional lives of Microsoft employees as they attempt to adjust to life in the port city. Here, Mr. Rudhran, a retired inspector in the Chennai Police Department, seeks to resolve differences with his estranged son while trying to find common ground with his new White daughter-in-law.  It is in the surreal nature of the loneliness and desperation of the USA that sets the stage for a bizarre series of kidnapping/murders, which bring the retired cop back into his game.

Promoted as the Tamil Sherlock Holmes, teaming together the two veteran actors certainly brings that magic to the screen.  Director Elangovan bows to their greatness, and the acting is smooth, filled with dry wit and pithy observations, while still giving room for the flashback like atmosphere of Mr. Rudhran's eccentrically brilliant mind.

Mr. Roberts as the villain offers an intelligence all his own, an evil reminiscent of S J Suryah in Spyder, a man literally feeding off his own madness, all the while dissolving his pains on heavy doses of cocaine. 

There is an evil here, but it is an evil not without blame.  Racism, amorality, caste, inter-racial marriage, even the Trump administration is put through a strong litmus test, in conversations very much along the lines of those all of us have in our weekend social life. But, like our biases, some of it feels and probably is exaggerated.

But, this movie is not about merely being social, it is about sociopaths, and the maddening loneliness of the West which makes them who they are, and lets them play out their madness.

It is with the local constabulary we find the chink in the metal of this movie.  They investigate and condescend without rhyme or reason.  I am not sure if the director was trying to convey a message here; but if he did, he sure hit the mark. The cultural wall between White justice and Indian rationalism is a clearly defined line.

Certainly, you will be seeing this brilliant stroke of movie-making more than once.  I plan to.