Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Amit Ashraf's Runaway - a review

I saw Runaway, an impressive first feature from Bangla-American writer-director Amit Ashraf, which was the closing night film at Filmi, the South Asian Film Festival in Toronto last Sunday.

The film tells the story of Babu, a rickshaw driver in Dacca who kidnaps a rising politico, Akbar, in order to return him to the family he abandoned as a young father and husband.  The relationship between Babu and Akbar careens from hunter and hunted to something more familiar and then caroms off into something even darker.  By the end, I felt I'd been through the same emotional ringer Bapu and Akbar had been through, drained but very satisfied at the depth of the story I'd been told.

Ashraf's script is in Bengali and I had to rely on subtitles to know what the characters are saying, but his use of the camera shows an astonishing grasp of visual poetry.  Even when scenes are just of characters talking, the camera is always probing, searching for the right vantage point to witness this relationship and often that vantage point surprises.  Nothing is conventional.

Performances from some rising Bangladeshi actors are top notch, though I felt Shahed Ali's Babu had the edge over Monir Ahmed's Akbar who had to play both the younger and elder versions of the character. Also strong are Nawshaba Ahmed and Reetu Satter who play the women in Akbar's past.  Animesh Aich's Raj is particularly nasty.

My quibbles are with the script which lacks enough story to keep it moving through the long middle section where Bapu takes Akbar on a kind of journey into the heart of Dacca, but Ashraf's writing pays off in the end with rigorous tragic consequences.

Working with cinematographer Kyle Heslop, Amit Ashraf has crafted a mature and majestic first feature that felt like Satiyajit Ray met Tarantino in Dacca with a Red camera and made a movie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Will try to find the movie.

We spell it Dhaka though, Decca is a British-time relic.