Direction: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Starring: Dileep, Kavya Madhavan
A short sequence early on in Pinneyum serves a grim warning as to what lies ahead, that you are in for some disappointment, if you were expecting the classic Adoor cinema of yesteryear. Purushothaman Nair, played by Dileep, is shown reading an Agatha Christie novel, loudly hinting at his future criminal turn, in a scene reminiscent of the not-so-cerebral thrillers.
To pile it on, the reference does not stop there, with his uncle proceeding to talk to him about thriller novels, in case the viewer did not catch the title of the book. From that point, all your hopes of a nuanced, layered narrative, which we have taken for granted from Adoor Gopalakrishnan, starts to slowly recede.
Sukumara Kurup case
In the twelfth film of his five decade-long career, Adoor draws the thread of his narrative from a much talked-about incident which happened in Kerala in the 1980s, — the still unsolved case of Sukumara Kurup, who murdered a man to fake his own death and claim the huge insurance amount. That plot had failed and Kurup is still missing. The film explores the human frailties that lead to such a crime and how it affects those close to the criminal.
Purushothaman Nair has been hunting unsuccessfully for a job for years, making him the object of scorn for his employed wife Devi (Kavya Madhavan) and her family.
He lands a job in the Gulf after much effort. Their life starts displaying a semblance of prosperity and contentment. He gets showered with love and respect by his wife and the society.
Then, greed takes over, when all seems well.
Pregnant with possibilities, that plot point was deserving of a deep study of the psyche as in Elipathayam or Vidheyan .
Of a bygone era
It was not be, as a string of over-dramatic performances take the film on a downward spiral.
Even a natural performer like Srinda hams her way through.
Some of the lines that the characters deliver sound like they belong to the drama stages of a bygone era.
The timelines look particularly messed up, when the film shifts to the present day, and there are no changes around to mark it as the present.
Those scenes could very well have been from the 1980s, surprising, coming from someone who is known for his attention to detail.
Other than the Agatha Christie reference, there is nothing that convinces you that this is a man capable of a crime, leave alone a pre-meditated one.
There is also no proper build-up to how those around him become willing conspirators.
If the intention was to show how even seemingly normal people can be blinded by greed, it does not get conveyed, sadly.
Love here leans more on verbosity, through voice-overs of written letters and ‘I feel how deep your love is’ - kind of lines. You hardly feel it, except in those few scenes where Kavya emotes effectively.
Pinneyum is almost an anachronism in 2016 and lacks everything that makes his old classics an engaging watch even today.