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Kodiyettam (Ascent)

Posted by martinteller on October 27, 2012

Sankaran Kutty (Bharath Gopi) is 32 years old.  He has no job but is perfectly content sponging off his younger sister Sarajini (Vilasini) and the widow Kamalamma (Kaviyoor Ponnamma).  He spends his days drinking, hanging out with the local children, attending festivals and eating a lot of free meals.  His sister gets fed up, sets him up with a matchmaker and leaves him on his own.  Sankaran marries Santhamma (K.P.A.C. Lalitha) but doesn’t give up his irresponsible habits, even after she becomes pregnant.  She gets fed up and leaves him too, and slowly Sankaran begins to mature, finding a job as a truck driver’s assistant and trying to support his family.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Rat-Trap is one of my best discoveries of the year, so naturally I wanted to see more.  Besides centering on a lazy man who depends on the three women in his life, this has little in common with that film.  It’s not nearly as enigmatic or distinctive, tonally very different.  It’s a pretty straightforward character study, as Sankaran is faced with crumbling relationships — not just his own — and experiences growth.  There may be political allegories I’m not savvy enough to pick up on, and some of the imagery appeared symbolic in a way that often eluded me (the cultural significance of the festivals is lost on me).  So perhaps the lack of depth is simply my lack of understanding, but it felt a bit slight and uneventful to me.

Nonetheless, it is sufficiently compelling as a character study, thanks to a fine performance by Gopi.  This film garnered him a lot of awards and attention, kicking off a long and fruitful career.  I thought the female co-stars were quite good as well.  I can’t say the movie left a strong impression on me, but enough of one to keep exploring Gopalakrishnan.  Rating: Good (73)


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