It is still a Tuesday and we are in the middle of the Festive season which according to me is the best time of the year! This is because this entire week, which is the last week of 2022, has a different vibe to it. And it does help when my birthday is sandwiched between Christmas and New Year that gives me that extra reason to party. But before the celebrations, lets get to work! And with that I finished watching the new Malayalam film 4 Years which is streaming on Amazon Prime. This was an impulsive decision to give this film a go considering that there ain’t enough buzz around the film. But by now you do know my funda about Malayalam films from an industry which has once again had an incredible year. As usual I knew nothing about this film and went in with absolutely no expectations but a lot of hope! So then is 4 years worth your time, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
4 years follows the story of Gayathri and Vishal on the verge of a breakup, reliving their days of togetherness on the final day of college. The story has the required warmth to it but it also did remind of the spectacular ‘Before Sunrise’ trilogy with the prime focus in the story being on the two protagonists. The screenplay standing at 2 hours could have maybe been cut down by 5 to 10 minutes but the narrative does make for some beautifully woven moments, some of which are relatable too.
The drama does open on an uneven note wherein we do not have a background of how the two protagonists met and fell in love. All we are showcased is the awkwardness between the two protagonists right at the very beginning. This approach did not quite work for me at the very beginning because the two characters did have a baggage together. Unlike in Before Sunrise where the two principal characters meet as strangers only to strike a conversation, thus allowing the audience to be a part of the journey, the drama was drastically different here resulting in unevenness in it. This is not to say that the drama is trash, it does have its heart in the right place and the mood of the drama is quite well established. This is strictly from a comparative point of view wherein a song could have quickly summed up their relationship to the point where they find themselves in.
The narrative structure here is a musical and I quite enjoyed this structure. The songs are tactfully integrated in the narrative, each highlighting a particular emotion. The proceedings are relatable and heartbreaking at the same time. How often have we seen in love that things have ended yet we tend to hold on to that last strand in hope that things will get to be better. The sentiments here are exactly that but with a dash of nostalgia. The last day of college is a perfect setup for a quiet little trip down memory lane for the protagonists and viewers. Yet, there are many moments that formulate this beautifully heartbreaking drama.
The interesting part of the drama is the characterization of the protagonists along with their character dynamics. The drama is a slow burn which may also make people impatient but if you are willing to invest in the characters then there are rewards to be had! The two diabolically opposite natured individuals fighting their own demons to spend a little more time with one another is a fascinating concept in its self. While moments in the uneven first half are scarce, the second half does have an abundance of them. With a small change in the setup leading to some heartfelt conversations, I was able to connect with the characters better through the second half.
The final act here is heartbreaking yet hopeful and that is when the title of the film, 4 Years becomes clearer and contrary to what you were expecting all along. Real time dramas(or a single day dramas) are difficult to stage considering the flickering focus of the viewers, however this was really staged well and something that did end with a lot of hope! Will there be a sequel? We will know in 4 years! Do not go in expecting a Before Sunrise, instead treat this like an individual film and you won’t be disappointed! In other words, the screenplay is predictable(as in you know where it is headed and how it would end) but it formulates for several heartfelt moments in the screenplay!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues were an integral cog for a drama like this keeping in mind that the proceedings were designed to be conversational. So a lot was dependent on the lines. And the lines felt just so organic and heartfelt making for a subtle yet profound impact. Another green tick here was the music which was beautiful and so well integrated in the film. The BGM was soulful and made you want to root for the couple too. The cinematography captures the vibe of the drama really well. So there is a patter of rain when things are damp and awkward between characters and sunshine when things are looking up for the couple. The frames here are nicely captured. The editing is crisp as well. Director Ranjith Sankar does an incredibly good job in weaving a beautifully heartfelt yet heartbreaking tale by focusing on just the two protagonists without any distractions. And he is also able to create some beautiful moments effectively in the drama!
This is typically a two character film which can also be tricky at times considering that the onus would then lie on just these two performers to do all the heavy lifting. But both Sarjano Khalid and Priya Prakash Varrier are excellent here. The duo share some crackling chemistry between the two which was infectious in many ways. Sarjano as Vishal is brooding, angry yet gentle in his heart. And he emotes beautifully with his eyes. He is wonderful to witness here. Priya as Gayathri has some wonderful expressions of pain on her face to back her acting chops. She has a charming presence onscreen and does a brilliant job.
4 Years is a beautifully woven organic love story with outstanding performances. Available on Amazon Prime!