Penguin(Amazon Prime Video)
Starring Keerthy Suresh, Linga,
Directed by Eashvar Karthic
Rating: **(2 stars)
Why is this film called Penguin? Why not Pickle? Or Puzzle? It just lays on the smoky hazy mysterious atmosphere in the winter chill of Ooty without coming anywhere close to offering us a convincing denouement to the foggy pretentious mess that the writer-director Eashvar Karthic creates.
After wading patiently through the cryptic morass all I came away with was stylish images thrust into the frames because…well, they look good on screen. And common sense be damned. In one early sequence Keerthy Suresh playing Rhythm (a quality seriously lacking in the storytelling) sits in the jungle in the night looking forlornly into the eerie darkness. Why is she there when they know there’s a killer on the prowl? Why is the killer dressed like Charlie Chaplin?
Because the visual, unlike the cops who just can’t get the culprits is arresting! Throughout the film the director wrestles with plotting incoherence and a visual splendour that mocks every absurdity laid out thickly like layers of butter on crumbling toast.
In fact the award for the absurdest suspense thriller in recent times goes to Penguin. The film’s existence is a puzzle. Was it made to showcase Keerthy Suresh’s talents as a master melodramatist? Throughout she sobs and wails and moans as though she has yet to exorcize the demons of actress Savithri whom she played in Mahaniti, from her bloodstream.
There is no effort to understand why her character Rhythm who grieves for her dead child has quickly re-married after her first marriage crumbles under the weight of the tragedy.
Rather than explore the tragedy of bereavement with sensitivity Penguin takes us on a preposterous pilgrimage to pin the multiple killings on the most unlikely and hugely improbable killer. By the time the killer’s identity is revealed the plot has lost every shred of believability. You can see the film as a showcase for Keerthy’s talent. But she deserves a lot better.