‘Good Night’ movie review: A spectacular Manikandan in a lovely slice-of-life drama

A film that feels like a good joke told on a harsh night, ‘Good Night’ has much that impresses us, like its unimposing peek into the lives of ordinary people, lived-in characterisation, and Manikandan’s brilliant comedic timing

May 11, 2023 01:54 pm | Updated 02:59 pm IST

Manikandan and Meetha Raghunath in ‘Good Night’

Manikandan and Meetha Raghunath in ‘Good Night’ | Photo Credit: Think Music India/YouTube

A verse on the innate flaws we all come with, a slice-of-life about common people travelling in local trains and eating buns with butter, a film that feels like a good joke told on a harsh night; Vinayak Chandrasekaran’s Good Night is many such comforting things. What joy it is to watch a film that not only values the mundane pleasures of life but builds a world filled with many such nuggets of everyman’s happiness with such ease.

Be it the unimposing peek into the lives of regular people with lived-in characterisation, the casual dialogues, the witty one-liners from actors Manikandan and Ramesh Thilak, or the everyday problems laced with harmless humour, there are simply too many details that impress even before we get into the story.

Good Night (Tamil)
Director: Vinayak Chandrasekaran
Cast: Manikandan, Meetha Raghunath, Ramesh Thilak, Raichal Rabecca
Runtime: 144 minutes
Storyline: Mohan has always been insecure about his loud snoring, but only after he marries his girlfriend does he realise the extent to which it can affect his life

The brightest of the attraction is without a doubt Manikandan, whose firecracker timing keeps you smiling throughout. He plays a young IT professional named Mohan, or ‘Motor’ Mohan as his colleagues call him thanks to his unbearably loud snoring. The reason he thinks his mother chose him the name Mohan becomes a joke, and sleep apnea, which takes centre stage in the film, gets introduced to us in an incredibly light-hearted manner. This is, in retrospect, another impressive idea because up until then, the issue of Mohan’s loud snoring is discussed, but not world-ending as it turns out to be. When a girl initially rejects Mohan and he cries to his family, it gets a comical twist. However, the second time he cries, it’s due to another relationship gone sour due to his loud snoring, and this time you feel for him.

Vinayak introduces Anu (Meetha Raghunath, who does a wonderful job) to us parallelly; she’s a young girl working as an accountant and living by herself. Anu has no one other than her elderly house owners — two sweet souls (Balaji Sakthivel and Kousalya Natrajan) — to care for. She’s an introvert with her own share of past demons that chase her on lonely days and nights, but she has also made peace with the quiet. Frames of Anu’s life look more saccharine, even when her face bears a constant non-smile. If it’s the snoring for Mohan, Anu’s kryptonite is ‘luck’; she’s made to believe that she’s unlucky and that she is the source of everything doomed. Anu is everything that Mohan isn’t. Unlike her, he’s always around people — his mother (Uma Ramachandran), two sisters (Sree Arthi and Raichal Rabecca), and brother-in-law Ramesh — all of who can’t stand to see him cry. If Mohan wants biriyani, he gets biriyani; Anu has to cook for herself. While Mohan doesn’t hesitate to vent about everything that goes wrong for him, Anu would choose to suffer than open up to someone.

The two meet by chance — in one of the most well-staged meet-cutes in recent times — and eventually, fall in love in the most organic fashion. It’s the sort of relationship that just happens when two opposites find themselves in similar situations and when they need people to lean back on. They get married, but soon Mohan’s sleep apnea becomes a matter of concern. Director Vinayak takes ample but necessary time to flesh out how something we don’t even think about (like snoring) can affect someone’s life.

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The first act of this film just ebbs and flows with ease, and the writing also paves the way for Manikandan to flex his comic timing. Like a passing joke mentioning Hip-hop Adhi and Mirugam Aadhi, or actor Charlie from Friends, there are just too many knee-slappers that work wonders. A running gag about how Ramesh courted Mohan’s sister leaves you in splits every single time, and this ‘mama-machan’ duo pillar the film. But what’s special about Good Night is that it doesn’t sideline Ramesh and his wife merely for comedy; they become second leads of sorts and their storyline makes a strong point against parents (or society) who love to peep into personal affairs.

Just like how Vinayak introduces a puppy into the picture to show that Anu has started accepting people into her life, Vinayak lets Manikandan’s humour signal his eventual downfall. Ridden with guilt, anxiety, and utter helplessness from a health disorder that cannot be fixed, Manikandan’s wounds fester something deep.

But the sore spot in the otherwise-impeccable screenplay is the resolution. Mohan and Anu complete each other — like a perfect yin-yang — but this makes it seem like Anu is the ‘fixer’. While effort is taken to weave a pointless arc for Mohan’s toxic workspace, the film shows Anu as someone who doesn’t value her career enough... and none of the characters including Mohan seem to care as well.

Sleep apnea is a major cause of divorces across the world but Good Night isn’t just about snoring; it makes a statement about accepting the flaws of a loved one. Vinayak’s lovely use of Sean Roldan’s music, and the creative scene transitions like when a perfume spray becomes a pressure cooker or a wet cloth becomes rain are bonus Easter eggs. Good Night succeeds in similar areas to Thiruchitrambalam last year; a tragedy got a lighter treatment in the Dhanush film, whereas this dramedy speaks of something we all go through in one way or the other and offers comfort through its many characters. A good night can surely cure most of our troubles.

Good Night releases in theatres this Friday

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