2018 Movie Review: Tovino Thomas & Co's technically solid and emotionally chaotic survival drama is a moving remembrance of Kerala floods


Film: 2018

Cast: Tovino Thomas, Tanvi Ram, Lal, Asif Ali, Narein, Kalaiyarasanm and ensemble

Director: Jude Anthany Joseph

Rating: 4 Moons

The tagline of the latest Indian film, 2018, is 'Everyone's A Hero' as it salutes the Bravehearts of the 2018 Kerala floods which left over 483 people dead and several went missing. In a dramatised tribute to the true heroes of the devastating and important 'Kerala Story', director Jude Anthany Joseph uses the tool of cinema to take the audience back in time to understand the trauma of the people affected by the floods.

2018 plays with the emotional quotient as there are ample moments that have the possibility of leaving the viewer shattered from within. It begins in smaller and lesser-known villages and districts in Kerala and there's not just one hero. 2018 is a story of the human spirit, compassion and selflessness in a time of calamity and every department understood the final goal. The film binds various subplots of different families who have to unite to save Kerala from a disaster. 

There's a fisherman family, an ex-army man, a person who is dealing with marital problems, a truck driver who is far away from home and his daughter, a blind shopkeeper and a special child. They come together to create a strikingly haunting and dark story. 2018 is more than just a survival drama. It is a beautiful concoction of love, brotherhood, humanity and courage. The film takes its own time to set up and director Jude Anthany Joseph has cleverly divided it into two parts-one is the establishment of the characters and the build-up to the real story and the second is an uninterrupted, deep and unfathomable cinematic revisit to the horrific floods. 

2018 is a true superhero story. A story of real people and genuine emotions. Jude Anthany Joseph does a phenomenal job at maintaining a sense of foreboding evenly. Be it through the sounds of incessant rainfall or cries of people who fear for their lives, the atmosphere creates all the magic. Despite suffering from predictability, 2018 keeps you hooked throughout and not even for a second you will reach out to your phone. The ambience building is on-point as it is a technically brilliant film. The smaller nuances and scenes that don't call for drama also have something significant to add to the value of the film. 

At the beginning of 2018, a Church with a tall statue of Jesus is highlighted. While you might feel it is just another casual shot, wait for the second half. When hopes are lost, a rescuer comes face-to-face with the idol indicating that the common man is now the guardian of the people. A dilapidated school becomes a shelter home for thousands and Anoop (Tovino Thomas), who is questioned about his decision to quit the army, becomes the hero. There's a sense of tension and joy in such little sequences that keep the ray of hope alive. 

In spite of knowing what is about to follow, the near-perfect second half drowns in emotions and there's no complaining about it. Writer-director Jude Anthany Joseph along with co-writer Akhil P Dharmajan creates such emotionally rich and vibrant moments that one cannot take the film lightly. The film focuses on two diverse regions of Kerala. One suffers from lack of water and one is of the privileged where models are shooting under fake rain. When the privileged side of Kerala witnesses destruction, a little girl has a smile on her face as she sees rain possibly for the first time. She dances her heart out within her safe space whereas those with luxuries are ripped off it. 

The parent-child relationship also forms an important subplot in 2018. In the fisherman family, the father and elder brother are against the youngest son's dream of becoming a model, but soon the narrative changes and how. The bond between Sethupathi (Kalaiyarasanm), a truck driver and his daughter is beautifully shown and they have a graph that is missed in most films. The interpersonal relationships between the characters are like a cherry on the cake. 

2018 is thoroughly engaging but some of the obstacles and lesser appeasing factors include the love story between Tovino's Anoop and Tanvi Ram's Manju. It is cute and adorable but a vile subplot that takes the tightness away from the storytelling. The fights and disagreements between the fisherman's sons are also lukewarm. The love angle of one of the sons seems to be a forceful addition.    

It will be unfair to call Tovino Thomas the lead of 2018. Every actor is indeed a hero for pulling off a complex, physically and emotionally demanding film. Transforming from Minnal Murali to Anoop, Tovino has rightfully become the real superhero of Indian cinema. Lal, Asif Ali, Narein and Kalaiyarasanm take the audience along with their stories and it is a delight to watch them leave sprinkles of their craft. Tanvi Ram does a good job but there's not enough room for her to display her craft. 

2018 is a stunningly designed visual spectacle. The superbly executed flood sequences will make you wonder how were they even shot so well. Production designer Mohandas deserves special mention for creating such beautiful sets. Nobin Paul's music elevates the film to the next level. Akhil George sets the benchmark extremely high with 2018. His cinematography is top notch and he plays a key role in creating the right impact visually. 

2018 is a masterpiece that cannot and shouldn't be missed. It is a tribute to the power of human resilience. The Hindi dubbed version of the film releases in theatres on May 26. Expect it to stir you up as it isn't a regular drama. 

PeepingMoon gives 2018 4 Moons