TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘The Elder One’

TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘The Elder One’

Films may believe that they have certain intentions at their fore; however, these intentions are occasionally undermined by other lenses a film may employ. Geetu Mohandas’ Liar’s Dice follow-up is partially a queer love story, but it is also a pulpy thriller, and this combination slightly undermines what the film’s intentions may be.

14-year-old Mulla (Santana Dipu) steals his uncles’ boat and sail to Mumbai in search of a mysterious elder brother Akbar (Nivin Pauly), who left home many years ago. Mumbai, however, is nightmare, and he soon finds himself lost in a turbulent world of youth street gangs. Flashback to the past, where we learn what prompted Akbar’s departure long ago.

That is the plot of The Elder One, or at least I think it is? It was difficult to tell as the film is dimly lit. Although, dim is the incorrect adjective to describe the first act of this film; incomprehensibly lit is probably the much better descriptor. The film’s flashback love story is excellent and deeply moving, but it is shoehorned into a City of God like urban thriller that is over-edited, filled with jarring angles, and features copious use of multiple frame rate nonsense. The ultimate aesthetic is garish.

Largely, this is the frustration present in watching The Elder One. There is probably a wonderful and heartbreaking love story buried somewhere inside, but it is buried so deep that it is too much of a slog to look for.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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