Confessions of a Cuckoo Review

A morbid, unaffecting docu-drama that does little justice to the issue it discusses

Srivathsan Nadadhur -

Confessions of a Cuckoo Review
Platform
Prime Reels
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Format
Movie Rated
16+
Genre
DRAMA
Language
Malayalam

What is the story about?

A teenager Anna is found dead at an orphanage home. Another young girl from the home, Nazeema is accused of murdering her. Nazeema is taken into police custody and is left at a juvenile detention centre. Meanwhile, a journalist, filmmaker Sherin is keen on filming an extensive documentary about the victims of child abuse but thinks twice about going ahead with it when she comes to know of her pregnancy. A traumatic incident at her apartment prompts her to get the project back on track. Talking to one child abuse victim after other, Sherin’s deeply disturbed by their plight. However, what connects Sherin to the story of Nazeema?

Analysis

Feature films revolving around social issues run the risk of turning into documentaries when the dramatic element in the story isn’t compelling enough. Many filmmakers in the past have used their film as a dumping ground for all their research material while forgetting to string together an engaging narrative. Confessions of a Cuckoo, told through the eyes of a journalist moved by the plight of the victims of child abuse, is one such instance. The meandering plot neither tackles the social issue well nor engages the viewer completely.

When a friend in the story advises the lead character (journalist, documentary filmmaker) to make a feature film on child abuse instead of a documentary, the latter opines only a documentary would do justice to the subject. Perhaps, this is something that the director should have considered too. The film feels like a series of newspaper clippings about child abuse victims stitched together – one sob story after the other – and ends rather abruptly. The accounts leave a lump in your throat, but where’s the film here?

Sherin’s pregnancy, her husband who stays abroad, are almost forgotten beyond a point. The teenagers who molest Sherin at the apartment are conveniently let away. The film takes up an issue not having any clue about what to do with it. There’s zilch emotion and intensity, the writing is very amateurish, vague and barely evinces any interest. There’s a great germ of a story in it about a victim of abuse using her work as a medium of catharsis, but the execution is so morbid and dull that the film feels like a poorly made television soap.

Perhaps it would have made for a gripping short film? The 90-minute duration certainly feels like an ordeal in its current shape. There’s no raciness in the storytelling at all, the characters are poorly etched. This Malayalam film should consider itself lucky to have found takers in the digital space. And films like these help you appreciate Imtiaz Ali’s Highway all the more – the intensity and honesty with which this feature film discussed child abuse within a commercial format is a golden standard in filmmaking that’s yet to be matched.

Performances

Durga Krishna, playing the protagonist Sherin, delivers a largely un-affecting performance shorn of any emotive value and has poor screen presence. She consistently wears a disinterested expression and there’s little sincerity from her part to get into the skin of her role. Arjun Nandakumar’s role in the film is an extended special appearance that does nothing to change the course of the story. Arjun Ravindran, cast in the role of Sherin’s husband, is hardly seen. Abhija Sivakala as the notorious principal of the orphanage home is just okay. The most impactful performances in the film come from its child actors – Prarthana Sandeep and Naharin Navas (as Anna and Nazeema).

Music & Other Departments

A couple of numbers from Aloshya Peter’s album are soothing and add value to the story. However, the background score is too old school to make any impact. Cinematographers Antony Jo and Raj Kumar do a relatively ordinary job in mounting the story - the visuals aren't even remotely arresting. The lazy screenwriting is the most disappointing side to the film.

Highlights

  • Performances of the child actors
  • Germ idea of the story

Drawbacks

  • Executed more like a documentary than a feature film
  • Extremely poor narration
  • A vague screenplay

Did I enjoy it?

No

Do I recommend it?

No



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