Film Review: Keerthy Suresh shoulders weight of this mystery thriller

With its technical brilliance and a strong background score, Penguin depicts the emotional journey of a determined mother to find her missing child. After Ponmagal Vandhal, the movie becomes the second major Tamil film to be released on Amazon Prime.
Film Review: Keerthy Suresh shoulders weight of this mystery thriller

Chennai

Director Eshavar Karthic sets the tone for Penguin with a gripping opening scene; we see a young child, playing alone in a forest near the statue of a winged angel, with a creepy figure wearing a Charlie Chaplin mask holding an umbrella, who suddenly attacks the kid. And then the shot zooms to Rhythm (Keerthy Suresh) who wakes up in panic.

“Penguin” begins with a strong first act that alternately moves from past to present with a series of flashbacks. Here, we are introduced to Rhythm’s ex-husband Raghu (Linga) and we witness how their marriage comes apart as their first child goes missing. The plot has no romance as the focus is more on the relationship of a mother and her lost child. The first half is engaging, thanks to Santhosh Narayan’s icy background score and Karthik Palani’s cinematography. However, it falters towards the climax and becomes ‘flightless’. What holds “Penguin” despite its errors is Keerthy’s powerful performance. Her act as an emotionally traumatised mother keeps us engrossed. Rhythm gets support from her trained dog Cyrus, whose portrayal as a loyal pet may strike a chord among pet lovers.

One of the major pluses of the film is its music that effortlessly fits with each sequence and sets a sense of urgency. The hum in the score mixes well as it resonates with Rhythm’s deep sense of loss whenever she faces a dead end in the search for her lost child. The movie also finds ample support in technique; Kharthik Phalani, the director of photography, keeps us devoted to the story with dark visuals set by the lake and overhead tracking shots of the hill town that subtly triggers fear of the unknown.

But the trouble in the movie begins as we head towards the final act as none of the supporting actors has a strong role. Rhythm’s second husband Gautham (Madhampatty Rangaraj) is often busy with office meetings and has nothing much to do in his minimal screen time, whereas the antagonist’s motive is lame and too far-fetched. The depiction of the antagonist falls flat as it isn’t aligned to the grim mindset of a psychopath/serial killer we read about in real life. Nevertheless, Keerthy Suresh makes us oversee the errors in the movie as we are reminded through her act that a mother will do anything to protect her child.
 
Cast: Keerthy Suresh, Linga and Madhampatty Rangaraj.
Director: Eashvar Karthic
Music Director: Santhosh Narayanan
Synopsis: Set in the misty and cold hill station, Kodaikanal, “Penguin” is about Rhythm (Keerthy Suresh), a pregnant mother, desperately in search of her missing first child for the past six years.
Rating: 2.5/5

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