Love triangles always make for good drama. Throw in a film crew and there’s a good chance someone’s going to get hurt. For our purposes, writer/director Akshay Padmanaba tries the triangulation in Grau, and the details do build the tension, but just because the endpoints fly apart, doesn’t mean enough work has been done – and it’s in the unraveling where the 15 minute film falls a little short.
The film begins ominously in the dark and the accompanying score signals the same foreboding. The sudden sound of a cell phone from an unknown caller can’t be good either.
But Richard (Pritheev Senthilkumaran) answers and Gerald (Jeffrey Nathaniel) reels him in. “I’m a journalist and I have something that you might want to take a look at, things of your interest.” Left at that, Richard has no choice but to oblige to the meet.
We then get a first sense of the aggrieved party from the tight cinematography by Isshaan Murali and Sam Augustine. The camera takes a very narrow view of Gerald’s homebound surroundings and a lot is left out of the frame. Including himself, the pan around the room doesn’t show anything in full and everything cut off, the purview suggests Gerald’s life has gone over the edge.
On the other hand, we get a full view Richard. Life is as good. He’s a successful mystery novelist, his latest work is taking off and the camera’s orderly exposition shows quite a few nice toys for a young single man.
So the dye cast, the unhappy couple meet at an empty cafe and the jilted party continues to reemphasize his resolve. Padmanaba’s direction has Nathaniel completely focused on his meal, and the utter disregard plays perfect against the impatient arrogance that Senthilkumaran conveys. So a critical mass might be out of sight but it’s definitely not out of mind.
Unfortunately, the delivery of the dialogue doesn’t go so well. The duo appear to be inexperienced, and the lines don’t give off the feel of two actors who are immersed in their parts.
Nonetheless, the reason for the meet is revealed and both sides continue to play their parts. Richard bubbles over, and Gerald refused tip his hand toward the slow burn that lays beneath.
The scene’s professional layout is definitely set up to overheat, and the imagination obviously wonders how far it will go. But for the build up to be truly meaningful, there needs to be an ending that strays outside the lines of what we expect.
A 2007 film called Fracture comes to mind. Anthony Hopkins’ wife is cheating on him, so at the very outset, the jilted husband kills her. The acting legend then frames the lover, and plenty of revenge in tow, the seemingly perfect crime has been committed.
Not so far out of the lines but Hopkins arrogance causes him to overreach. Hopkins’ plans go awry and a long prison sentence leaves him reeling. In turn, we get the twist that makes it a great film.
But Grau never gives you that little hook. It simply goes from A to B and doesn’t yield the type of satisfying sting that makes the story endure.