Trance movie review: Fahadh Faasil steals the limelight by portraying a character that is hysteric and disturbing at the same time.
Trance movie cast: Fahadh Faasil, Nazriya Nazim, Soubin Shahir, Vinayakan, Gautham Menon, Chemban Vinod Jose, Dileesh Pothan
Trance movie director: Anwar Rasheed
Trance movie rating: 3.5 stars
Anwar Rasheed's Trance is not everyone’s cup of tea and definitely not an easy watch. The movie is a one-man show featuring ace Malayalam actor Fahadh Faasil. Of course, there are other elements like Amal Neerad’s cinematography, Sushin’s background score, Anwar Rasheed’s visualisation that make Trance a one-of-a-kind Malayalam movie. However, Fahadh steals the limelight by portraying a character that is hysteric and disturbing at the same time.
The psyche of the protagonist Viju (Fahadh Faasil) is established within the first ten minutes of Trance. A low profile motivational speaker from Kanyakumari, Viju has a troubled past and lives with his younger brother Kunjan, played by Sreenath Bhasi. Viju is shown as a man with ambition, even amidst financial struggles and a brother who is mentally unstable. He is an energetic motivational speaker to hapless common people of the locality but also a very calm and sensible elder brother to his unstable younger brother. The movie really plunges into a trance mode once Viju’s brother hangs himself just like their mother, leaving Viju in an unbearable existential void. From the breezy slow-paced life of Kanyakumari, Viju escapes to the fast-paced, tireless city of Mumbai in search of a new beginning.
In Mumbai, Viju is recruited by two corporate giants played by Gautham Vasudev Menon and Chemban Vinod to be the poster boy of their new business plan - a wonder-working pastor. They see Viju’s manic way of motivational speaking as an ideal attribute to make him a messenger of God who can do miracles like curing illness by merely praying loudly. They make him take a crash course on the Bible and theology under the supervision of Avarachan (Dileesh Pothan), a theologist who even changes Viju’s name to Joshua Carlton. The movie then without much conviction shows the growth of Joshua into a god-like figure who can cure any disease with his overpowering and sloganeering form of faith. It also shows the dark reality of how common people are manipulated in the name of religion. The first half of Trance ends on a tense tone, with Joshua being confronted by a journalist (Soubin Shahir). The second half of the movie is a long and tedious watch, with the relation between Joshua and his sponsors starting to fall apart, and new characters being introduced. Nazriya Nazim arrives as Esther Lopez, an alcoholic and weed smoking woman, who is recruited to spy on Joshua. Vinayakan is also convincing as a blind believer in God’s miracles.
Fahadh Faasil’s character Viju in the second half drifts between past trauma and drug-induced paranoia. The movie is then a long wait to see whether Viju can pull off Joshua’s mask and reveal the truth about his fake miracle work to the world. As the film finally concludes in Amsterdam, the promised land for junkies and psychedelic adventurers, the audience might feel relieved from an unconventional and uncompromising audio-visual expedition that at times feels too heavy to handle.
Fahadh delivers yet another unreal performance in Trance. His fanatical transformations as the miracle-working pastor remind you of Leonardo Dicaprio’s performance in The Wolf of Wall Street. There’s a dialogue in the movie where the doctor who treats Joshua says, ‘If he is acting, he should get an award.’ This is the perfect way to describe Fahadh’s performance in Trance.
Nazriya Nazim’s character Esther Lopez is a break from her usual girl-next-door characters. Gautam Vasudev Menon, Chemban Vinod, Vinayakan, Dileesh Pothan, Sreenath Bhasi, meanwhile, essay their roles with perfection.
The abstract style of filmmaking, and the narrative structure that visualises the complex layers of the protagonist’s psyche is bound to make Trance a trendsetter in the Malayalam film industry. The vivid visualisation, colour tones and the brilliant use of sounds remind one of French filmmaker Gasper Noe’s works. Anwar Rasheed’s directorial vision coupled with Amal Neerad’s cinematography and Sushin Shyam-Jackson Vijayan’s background score boosts the script written by Vincent Vadakkan. Praveen Prabhakar’s editing also enhances the cinematic experience.
All in all, Trance paves a new path for Malayalam cinema through the fearless and uncompromising style of filmmaking.