DISCLAIMER: MILD SPOILERS
Adam Joan is a thriller that surrounds a Malayali family who crosses paths with a cult in Scotland.
Adam Joan’s (Prithviraj) daughter Ila is raised by his brother Allan (Rahul Madhav) and sister-in-law Swetha (Bhavana). One day, Ila is kidnapped by a group of unidentified people and Adam stays back to find the criminals with the help of his friend Cyriac (Narain). Rest of the plot deals with the foundations of the mystery behind her disappearance and Adam’s attempts to rescue her.
I was very excited to watch this film after reading the premise and initial reviews. Prithviraj as an actor has done a variety of films and genres. This year began with Ezra, a horror flick based on a Jewish cult. Well, Adam Joan has its own connections with the Jewish and the rituals related to the same. After all, the character who is said to be Jewish is from Fort Kochi. A Clever job there itself. I couldn’t help but compared it with Ezra. Adam Joan has a better plot development but Ezra’s climax and the subsequent ending is better. I guess the appeal of the film lies in the way it is marketed. The promos and posters showed more of Adam’s romance with Amy (Mishti) and a possible “eerie environment”. So, we will not know anything more until we watch the film. But, there were many posters of Adam with a gun and with a tough look we are all familiar with from puthiya mugam. Until the climax, this version of Adam Joan is not shown to us.
Based on the plot, we are introduced to the whole scenario through the eyes of Swetha then the perspective shifts to Adam. The whole movie is character driven and all the characters have depth. The likes of Cyriac, Swetha, Daisy (Lena) and Allan could all have been reduced to flatness but it is good that enough motive is given to each and every one of them. However, there are all incomplete. The connection between Daisy and Swetha is the most tantalizing part of the film. Overall pacing and progress are through them including the twist. I was intrigued when Swetha appeared in the Satanic cult costume. And when she stood in the black mass and her determination to prove them wrong. Then, after a while, even she disappears from the screen until the climax. The movie and plot in a way rest of her shoulders but Adam conveniently moved it to his own. Despite doing something unethical and blasphemous we don’t see much of Daisy apart from the one look she gives Adam after the death of one of the antagonists. What happened to her afterward? And the story behind her “family” could have used more, especially at the end. As much as I admired the smooth transition of perspective, excluding Swetha and Daisy completely was rather a result of a staggering plotline.
The film is different in terms of the theme, presentation, and for being a thriller that is character driven where the story is not fully limited to the protagonist, the climax was too stereotyped by having Adam fight all the ‘bad’ guys. Why? The plot is structured cleverly and some of the sequences are presented such that, there was scope for a good twist or parallel storytelling. For eg: moving Ila around or the ritual and the people involved. The end turned out to be a typical revenge flick. As if it is done for the “wish” fulfillment of the youth audience or for the sake of doing the justice to Adam’s “aggressiveness” or Prithviraj’s status as a star. It even gives a jerk to Adam as a character. Before Ila’s kidnapping, he is said to be coming back to them. The backdrop of that should have been shown to strengthen his feelings for his estranged daughter. And Adam is introduced as a happy go lucky guy who lived in his estate. Where did he get all that martial arts skills from? At one point he sits down on his knee, the “puthiya mugam” pose. Seemingly, he acquired all that because he is in front of the Satan and received all the skills and strength to turn the whole place into a bloodbath, as per Satan’s wish. But it is fruitless. The makers spend more time, frames, and budget on a slow-mo fight sequence that could have been avoided completely.
The cinematography is excellent, the POV, suggestion and moving shots lure you into the mystery that is being told. The technical side of the film is a result of advancement and that is well visible since Kammattipadam. Prithviraj delivered controlled acting. His emotional scenes and those scenes where he is in dilemma are well performed. The initial romance back by slapstick comedy didn’t sync well with the mysterious tone of the film. You might even feel that the film presented two different genres. The fact that Adam Joan didn’t see his daughter for over seven years is too unrealistic, although it worked well in the final moment where he touches his daughter for the first time if the emotional context of the scene is taken into consideration. Narain stuck to his standard but he looked off at certain points. Lena is lively in her role and suited for her character. I looked forward to watch Bhavana on-screen. Adam Joan is undoubtedly one of the most important films in her career since 2013 film Honeybee. And her involvement in this film is a major milestone, for women in cinema, as she made the decision after enduring a very difficult phase in her life. Bhavana stuck to her character ordeals. When you look at her face and body language, we could tell that she is hiding something. But as I mentioned before, excluding Swetha from further development felt like huge hollow.
Despite all the imperfections, Adam Joan is an edge of the seat film and Jinu V Abhraham as a director succeeded in creating such an eerie environment. It is worth viewing once but you have to make sure that you watch it at one go.
Featured image: ib times