First and foremost, I want to congratulate first-time writer-director Ilyaas Waheed for his above par effort to bring a movie not only dealing with an ominous subject but presenting it with such a never before seen visual flair and style. His work as a writer and a director is promising and deeply felt. Our film industry has found a force to be reckoned with.
This film also marks as the first Dhivehi psychological thriller that focuses mainly on the psychosis of the protagonist and delving deep into a few clinical practices used in psychology. It’s a slow burner, though. But once it starts to simmer and comes to a full boil, it’s an experience both spine-chilling and thought-provoking.
The narrative is hard to explain without spoilers. But I say this much, it’s surprisingly imaginative. In most part, there are glimmers of brilliance in Ilyas’ writing and directing. And it’s the way he peels off the narrative layer by layer using beautiful and sometimes creepy visuals mixed with intense drama that stands out. For a first-timer, I say he is impressive.
Nuzhath Shuaib has established herself as one of the most versatile actors in the local film industry today, showing her acting prowess in a vast range of roles. It’s not surprising that she accomplished her stardom in such a short span of time. Here, her performance, which is evenly balanced with restraint and nuance, will put her a notch above the rest. She plays an alienated woman who begins to experience strange occurrences around her once she relocates to Male’ after marrying a fitness trainer she meets from her island.
As the narrative progresses, she keeps raising the level of her performance as her life starts spiralling both physically and mentally to a point where her reality becomes blurry. In some sequences, she made me disconcerting and in one pivotal scene, gasping for air even.
However, its at the climax where she bites to the bone of her meaty role showing her acting brilliance with aplomb. It’s a role that any actor would die for. But she made her performance so convincingly powerful that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in it. I am her biggest fan now.
My admiration goes to all the newcomers in the cast, especially Ahmed Ifnaz Firag and Fathimath Latheefa. The former plays the fitness trainer that Nuzhath marries who is not only sympathetic, he’s likeable and will stop at nothing to protect the love of his life. And the latter plays Nuzhath’s uncompromising mother. For their debut, both give decent performances.
Even though veteran actor Mohamed Rasheed appears briefly, his role is crucial to the narrative and heavily supports the new actors. He gives assurance to them.
One of the highlights and in my opinion, also an essential character in this movie is the visual effects combined seamlessly into the narrative. I applaud Orkeyz, the VFX and the technical team behind this film to bring the unique vision of Ilyas to the screen with such finesse. If my memory serves me right, no other Dhivehi film to date has used visual effects so extensively, if not effectively as this.
Kandi Visan’s cinematography is another plus. The way he has set the mood elevates the mystery and the creepiness around Nuzhath. And the long tracking shots used sparingly are lively and a joy to watch.
Regardless of how much technical effort employed, a film is soulless without music. This is where Mistee, the music composer shines. After a praiseworthy composition for Illnoise, Hahdhu and the recent blockbuster, Gohraalhu, he has done it again. Unlike the previous films, which are of contrasting genres as well, he has composed a piece of brooding and moody music that’s so fitting to the sensitive theme of this film. It’s at times heart-pounding too.
In short, this film shines in all the filmmaking departments. For a film from a first timer, it’s technically good and well-performed by the entire cast with a gripping narrative. Highly recommended.