‘Helen’ shows how even a pure ‘genre film’ can be elevated through superb writing

Posted on November 26, 2019


Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/helen-shows-how-even-a-pure-genre-film-can-be-elevated-baradwaj-Rangan-anna-ben-lal/

Anna Ben and Lal are wonderful. But when the writing gives you so much to chew on, the performances become so much better.

Spoilers ahead…

I have stopped watching trailers as far as humanly possible, and all I knew about Mathukutty Xavier’s Helen — through word of mouth — was that it was a survival drama. So watching the movie, I was unaware about what exactly Helen’s predicament would be (though a scene in the first half gave me a hint) — but catching the trailer afterwards was even more interesting. I thought, like most trailers, it would give away that plot point — but this is a very cleverly cut trailer. All we see of Helen’s predicament is that she is… in a predicament. Maybe a psycho has her locked up. Or maybe she’s trapped somewhere. In other words, this is one of the rare trailers I wouldn’t have minded watching before the film. It’s just one of the many impressive things about Helen.

I have been talking to some editors about trailers, and when asked why they reveal so much, they simply shrug and say that’s how the audience wants it. The logic, apparently, is that today’s viewers don’t want to be “surprised” during a movie. They need to be “prepared”. If they think this is one type of movie and, fifteen minutes in, if they discover this is another type of movie, then they switch off. Instead of recalibrating their minds to this other type of movie, they feel the filmmaker has made a mistake by not making the movie they walked in to see. As someone who welcomes surprises in movies, I find this sad, but since so many editors think this way, I suppose there must be some “commercial” logic in this.

Continued at the link above.

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