An intriguing, if patchy, portrayal of Paris’ hipster terrorists, an unsatisfying slice-of-life gay love story from India, and a subtle observation of Romania’s modern woes. Overall, a middling closure to the 18th Mumbai Film Festival.

‘Nocturama’

Bertrand Bonello’s new film is about a band of young Parisian terrorists who are hip enough to qualify as fashionable art students. The director seems to point at the voices of dissent simmering under the surface of the average person. But he also seems to mock their double standards. This aspect is translated almost blatantly to the screen when the group hides in a fancy shopping centre after they launch an attack and seems to enjoy the services of its products, even if for only a night. It turns into a hothouse of paranoia and is the most engaging part of the film that otherwise takes its time to grip the audience.

‘Loev’

To its credit, Loev doesn’t care to explain things. It is, kind of, the point director Sudhansu Saria wants to drive home—a film about gay love that tells its story in a matter-of-fact way. Sahil’s irritation with Alex, who he lives-in with, for not paying the electricity bill and keeping the gas stove on, is as normal as the problems of any bickering couple. Or the nature of the relationship between Sahil and Jai, an old friend and a Wall Street banker, with who he takes off for a weekend getaway to the Western Ghats. But after a point these slices-of-life comes in the way of engaging storytelling. There are too many gaps to be filled and it doesn’t help that a lot of the dialogues are lost to poor sound mixing. It is evident that the film was made on a shoe-string budget. The lead actor Dhruv Ganesh—who has a relaxed, charming presence—tragically died last year. So, a re-dubbing won’t be possible even if it gets a theatrical release in the future. But adding subtitles can only help the film.

‘The Graduation’

Modern Romania worries about its children and wants to send them away to a better place. This seem to be the concern at the heart of Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu’s latest film. There is unpredictable violence on the streets, corruption in the offices and depression inside homes. All these things entangle in the story that revolves around Romeo, a failed husband and a desperate father, who wants his daughter to crack a scholarship to pursue higher studies in the UK. Mungiu makes a subtle demonstration of corruption at the grassroots perpetuated by those who condemn it, but it is not until the halfway mark, when a masterful reveal exposes Romeo’s motivations to be more personal, that the film comes alive.

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