NYIFF 2017 Film Review “Trapped”



First, the Recap:

Extreme circumstance. It’s a position no one desires to find themselves in. Far too easy to take events that occur around us or to us for granted, every effort is made to avoid any situation that involves unfavorable conditions. But, is it not prudent, even if only at random times in life, to think about “What if?”. For one shy office worker named Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao), daily life’s biggest challenge is working up the courage to speak with, much less think about asking out, his workplace crush, Noorie (Geetanjali Thapa). After many awkward interoffice phone calls and barely-there conversations, the two come together, and a building romance soon turns to talk of marriage, with Shaurya insistent he can provide for them.

Knowing his primary concern is to obtain a residence, his initial attempts to get a loan or an affordable apartment fall flat, until he attracts the attention of a broker (Yogendra Vikram Singh), who says he’s got the ideal place at a price Shaurya’s looking for. Heading to the outskirts of Mumbai, an unoccupied high-rise building and the specific flat offered with its scarcely functioning utilities becomes a living nightmare when a wind gust blows the flat’s door shut, trapping Shaurya inside.  What should normally seem a minor inconvenience turns into a fight for survival as, with a dead cell phone, no running water or electricity, or immediate proximity to anyone who could help, Shaurya has to battle mounting frustration, hunger, thirst, even hallucination, to overcome desperation with forced innovation.

Next, my Mind:

Packed with a realistic, well-founded, captivating, intelligent, and often wince-inducing intensity, director Vikramaditya Motwane’s tension-filled effort propels the viewer through a cascade of emotions in following the narrative of one man’s struggle to gain the one thing that has suddenly and unceremoniously been stripped away from him–freedom. The kaleidoscope of battles, both physical and internal, Shaurya encounters once his unfortunate “incarceration” is underway provides an affecting look at the human will being broken, then forcibly inspired to regain a sense of self-preservation and escape.

With factors like dehydration, hunger, and injury on the surface paired with mental misery and borderline madness, it’s one harried journey to take with Shaurya, yet well worth it in cheering him on to not give up. The simple, straightforward means by which the entire story begins is perfectly effective, giving no indications of what’s to come until it’s happening. The visual presentation is equally excellent via the sprawling city backdrop vs. the confined space of the flat. It has you engaged so well that as the viewer, you start losing track of exactly how long Shaurya’s been in his predicament, which therefore aids in his situation becoming strangely relatable while viewing.

Rao’s performance is nothing short of spectacular in his portrayal of Shaurya, a true “everyman” in all respects, just wanting to live his life, do his job, get the girl, and carry on with existence as he envisions it. Once those initial stages are set, and things all seem to be falling into place, it only makes the first moment of his unanticipated confinement more impactful, as we know this isn’t the kind of man we picture as a typical “survivor”. However, as the days wear on and all initial (albeit clever and practical) methods he’s attempted to draw attention have failed, there’s that first true breaking point that ultimately leads to drastic, yet necessary, actions to keep himself alive and discover an exit strategy. Watching Rao’s acute passion and drive in navigating the character’s plight is enacted with finely-tuned precision.

Thapa is very well cast as the quintessential “girl-next-door” beauty who has drawn Shaurya’s fancy, and her quietly commanding and self-assured demeanor is a wonderfully played foil to his timid, reserved manner. Despite her initial predicament of an arranged marriage seeming to be a potential problem for the couple, her own hesitancy yet willingness to entertain breaking that to be with Shaurya is rational and clear-sighted. The key moment she plays during the film’s finale is very weighty and executed with poise by Thapa. Additional support from Singh as the shady broker, Patrick Graham as the quite entertaining Hawk McNab (watch the film to find out, folks), and Khushboo Upadhyay as Swati, another key figure in events.

In total, with its bittersweet finale, “Castaway”-style premise, greatly impassioned and impressive performance from Rao, plus an ode to the human will to abide and persevere, “Trapped” is a fantastic independent film effort from India that has earned some well-deserved praise while showcasing yet again the beauty of astute character and narrative-driven cinema.

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


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