As far as character introduction sequences go, the lengthy one that introduces the titular character in Joseph is quite effective on many levels. It reveals much about the retired police officer, yet retains an element of mystery about him.
His unkempt appearance, early morning drinking habit and the shabbiness of the house in which he lives alone shows a man who is being drowned by sorrow. A phone call from a top police officer takes him to a crime scene, a house, where we see him walking around in an unhurried manner, but with all his senses alert. He pries out seemingly unimportant details which most others missed. The case is solved in fifteen minutes, becoming an intriguing short film in itself.
M. Padmakumar’s Joseph is entirely built around this man (played brilliantly by Joju George), the twin tragedies of his life and his mastery in crime scene investigation, which occasionally drags him out of his personal hell and gives him purpose. Scripted by Shahi Kabir, a police officer himself, it hardly ever wavers from its single-minded purpose of unravelling the many layers around the troubled protagonist.
- Direction: M. Padmakumar
- Starring: Joju George, Dileesh Pothen
Padmakumar, after showing initial promise with films like Vasthavam , had strayed a bit along the commercial route, before again impressing with his previous film Jalam , on the travails of a marginalised woman. In Joseph , he comes back with renewed energy, although the style of making has not much novelty about it. Take, for instance, the compulsion to sprinkle the narrative evenly with songs. Only one of them seemed to add anything to the story.
But despite these quibbles, the way he constructs Joseph’s world deserves to be commended — be it his present life with his old friends, his early love life and the changing shades of the relationship with his wife. The film has also handled maturely the relationship between Joseph and Peter, his former wife’s husband, though one would have wished to know more about Peter.
The entire second half is dedicated to Joseph’s personal crime investigation, aided by his friends, when he pieces together the clues that literally lying by the wayside. Though a good part of the investigation also relies on the now familiar mobile tower tracking, there are elements of the good old pre-mobile era investigation to satisfy crime movie buffs. But the slightly convoluted end, laced with a social message, can be a bit underwhelming after all the engaging passages.
Joju George displays his versatility in a role which demands a range of emotions from him. It is about time the industry made use of him in a variety of roles, beyond the humourous ones that he usually gets. Joseph is a rewarding character study, marking Padmakumar’s return to form.