“Carbon”… A strange, fascinating, allegorical drama with a rich performance by Fahadh Faasil

Posted on January 22, 2018

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Spoilers ahead…

Read the full review on Film Companion, here: http://www.filmcompanion.in/carbon-movie-review/

Venu’s Carbon begins with Hydrogen and Oxygen: water, in other words. The credits appear over big, fat drops of what seems like rain. But where are we? Inside a car, watching a downpour through the windshield? Inside a house, perhaps, near a window? This isn’t a film that hands out instant answers. The wait for the explanation behind this image, in fact, lasts almost 145 minutes, which is the duration of the movie. Only in the last few frames do we see whose eyes those opening minutes were seen through, and where.

Meanwhile, we slip into Sibi’s (Fahadh Faasil) home — but Sibi isn’t home. His phone is switched off. His worried father (Spadikam George) has summoned Sibi’s friends, and he tells them, “If he doesn’t come today, we will make a police complaint.” But the friends don’t think this is a good idea. Soon, we see why. Sibi is in the midst of a shady operation, trying to sell an emerald that he claims is from a temple. Such a scene can play out as farce (a botched deal), with suspense (say, a double-cross), or with desperation and despair (a failed transaction). This scene, like the film, plays out in all these flavours. “What is the film’s genre?” we usually ask. In Carbon, the question is, “What isn’t?”

For a while, we get a dramedy about Sibi’s many get-rich-quick schemes, and these beautifully edited (by Beena Paul) scenes flow around a wealth of logistical detail. Venu (who’s also the writer) clues us into how Sibi’s brain works, how he handles cross-questioning or curveballs from the other party. So when Sibi deals with a woman (Praveena) who wants to sell an elephant, or a politician (a hilarious Dileesh Pothan) interested in a scam about selling bicycles to tribal women, the conversations seem to unfold in real time, without being pruned for dramatic effect. We don’t get just the punchy highlights of deal-making but also the dry transactional detail that makes us see the wheels turning inside Sibi’s head.

Continued at the link above.

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