NYIFF 2017 Film Review “Anatomy of Violence”



First, the Recap:

The reasoning of a monster. Do we ever dare decide to plumb the depths of the inner mindset of those whose actions seem utterly devoid of humanity or moral compass? How can the masses understand what compels a human being to perpetrate some of the most sickening atrocities against others and walk away from it unfazed? It is darkness to deep to truly comprehend as the severely broken paths of six young men unfolds in Delhi, India. From early points in their lives, around seven years old, Vikas, Dinesh, Bittu, Suresh, Reepu, and Chandu have faced the harshness of abuse or being witness to it in their respective home lives, the mental and physical anguish extreme.

Now in their early to mid twenties, they’ve found themselves contained within their own uniquely damaged worlds, exploring the twisted proclivities each has come to adapt from their childhood experiences. Meanwhile, during this same duration of time displayed, there has been a beautiful girl named Janki. Vibrant and full of dreams, Janki’s upbringing has been loving and fulfilling.  Now in 2012, in her early twenties as well, life is taking on new and inspiring turns. So as she walks down the road with her boyfriend Ankar, a bus filled with angry and drunk young men comes around, and suddenly the paths of monsters and an angel collide, the aftermath unthinkable.

Next, my Mind:

Directly based on the nation-jarring December 2012 rape of 23-year old Jyoti Singh in Delhi, India by six men on a bus, director Deepa Mehta’s feature film effort told in fictionalized format has to be one of the most intentionally disturbing yet morbidly fascinating exercises in independent cinema this reviewer has personally seen. This is truly art house film with a message, meant to punch you in the gut with its wince-inducing, make-your-skin-crawl frankness via the mostly conjectured, but also fact-based, glimpses into these six men’s childhoods, the maltreatment by others they experienced, and the cringe-worthy, haunting means by which these events shaped them to have the mindsets towards women, sex, and life in general they possessed. What further emphasizes this building gloom within them is seeing the totally opposite style of life being illustrated by witnessing the girl’s wonderful upbringing, the picture of innocence it presents, and knowing it is leading to a brutally fateful end. It’s a frank statement about a system’s failure, poverty, and social values breeding misogyny.

In an admittedly creative and very original choice of overall execution, the adult ensemble cast associated with this project were each asked to portray their particular character’s lives in both childhood and young adulthood, rather than subjecting child actors to what honestly would have been flat out traumatic, in my opinion.  Instead, the actors navigate the intricacies and somber nuances of the initial stages of their existence and the associated situations that tormented them, then take it up to the next level as young men whose heinous, broken, and grim outlook on women leads to the totally horrific event, which gratefully was only hinted at and not re-enacted in any piece or form. I must say these actors, including Vansh Bhardwaj, Tia Bhatia, Janki Bisht, Seema Biswas, Suman Jha, and Jagjeet Sandhu among the others solidly deliver impressively believable and harshly realistic performances here, and one can only imagine having to act out these scenarios could not at all have been easy for them.

The final nail is driven home during the film’s finale when actual newscast footage is shown from the actual broadcasts in the days following the rape, with mass protests, violent clashes with police, and the raging cry of a nation was heard. Yes despite the country’s women demanding the government offer better protection to them, the simply awful response and viewpoints from officials, plus one particular lawyer, to them was simply shocking, additionally compounded by the totally unrepentant, unremorseful, callous, and “ho-hum” attitude displayed by the men accused themselves. In total, “Anatomy Of Violence” is not a film many won’t necessarily sit through or entertain due to the overtly graphic portrayals of abuse and associated actions throughout. This reviewer freely admits he spent most of the film in an increasingly unnerved state. Yet, when going to its core, it IS an undeniably relevant film about an ongoing social issue that will continue to plague society until more ways are found to combat it effectively. It’s a willingness to delve into what factors create monsters, and I guess I give credit to a filmmaker bold enough to showcase it with such unconcealed bluntness.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!


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