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Movie Critique: Tentigo (2023) directed by Illango Ram
Movie Critique: Tentigo (2023) directed by Illango Ram

Movie Critique: Tentigo (2023) directed by Illango Ram

It is not possible for you to abandon him in this location.

This year, we have discussed multiple times how Sri Lankan cinema is making significant progress, with several standout titles. One key aspect of these films is their distinct sense of humor, which can be described as both dry and self-deprecating in addressing the country’s challenges. It was only a matter of time before a comedy emerged, and Illango Ram’s “Tentigo” fits the bill with its situational, Shakespearean, stage-play style. The film debuted at the Tallinn Film Festival, where it received the Special Jury Award.

Film Festival

“Tentigo” was featured at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.

After the sudden death of their father, the sons of a family are not only grieving, but also faced with the unexpected issue of his body having a permanent erection. Worried about the potential shame and gossip from their nosy neighbor Kamala, the two brothers and other family members desperately search for a solution to this embarrassing problem. They turn to doctors, Buddhist monks, voodoo practitioners, and coffin makers for help, but none are able to provide a solution. As time goes on, the family uncovers secrets about their late father and realizes that he was known differently by different people.

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Illango Ram uses humor to comment on local society and its religious practices, as well as the concept of societal judgement and the flawed health system in Sri Lanka. He also touches on human nature, revealing how people engage in behaviors such as lying, blackmailing, and gossiping, highlighting the complexities of human mentality. Additionally, he explores the theme of secrets and the idea that we can never truly know someone.

Despite the realistic and thought-provoking nature of the comments, Illango Ram manages to maintain an engaging sense of humor throughout the entire movie. This humor serves as the primary source of entertainment and is present from start to finish. However, it is also at this point where the most significant issues of the film arise. The concept is overused, leading to an abundance of episodes and situations, while the movie’s stage-play approach with heavy dialogue and a majority of scenes in one setting can become monotonous. Additionally, the introduction of a predictable guest and reveal of secrets are cliched and do little to resolve the story’s conflicts.

Ram’s cinematography produces several captivating shots, especially those where the camera is positioned on the ground and angled upwards. Additionally, the portrayal of the impact of the erection on the people surrounding the deceased effectively heightens the storytelling in this scene and emphasizes the familial connections. Aathan Sivananthar’s editing maintains a relatively quick pace, but, as previously mentioned, the film does run for too long and relies too heavily on its central concept.

Priyantha Sirikumara and Thusitha Laknath portray two brothers who showcase their contrasting and shared traits effectively, with their confrontations being some of the most enjoyable scenes in the film.

“Tentigo” possesses several positive qualities, although both the direction and writing could have benefitted from further refinement. Overall, however, the film is coherent for the majority of its runtime, and it will be intriguing to see Ram’s future projects after this one.