Sunrise (2016) - Partho Sen-Gupta
Partho Sen-Gupta's Sunrise is a nightmarish, psychological thriller centered around officer Lakshman Joshi, a man who sees his dark past converge with his current reality over the dark, rain-soaked urban streets of Mumbai. Challenging the viewer from the onset, Partho Sen-Gupta's Sunrise takes on a minimalist storytelling approach, being intentional vague on what exactly is going on around this Inspector Joshi, forcing the viewer to soak in this dark, noir-tinged environment. While i've been impressed with contemporary Indian cinema as of late, Sunrise is the first "genre" film I've seen which manages to stand up to some of the psychological crime thrillers out of South Korea, painting a portrait of darkness where morality feels hard to come by. Joshi is investigating the continual kidnapping of young woman in Mumbai, having to continually retrigger his despair related to his own daughter's disappearance several years ago. Through Joshi's patrols of the back alleys of Mumbai, the parallels between his past and his present begin to converge, taking a psychological toll that blurs reality, making Sunrise an ambiguous film at times, while touching on the plague of sex trafficking which haunts the city of Mumbai. The visual aesthetic fits the film perfectly, relying more on dark, noir-ish visuals than dialogue but I particularly liked the decision to film in 4:3 ration, giving Sunrise a claustrophobic tension which perfectly aligns with a main character who is struggling psychologically to do his job while dealing with the grief of his daughter's past kidnapping. The dream sequences throughout Sunrise are visceral, but my favorite representation of Joshi's potentially deteriorating psyche are the shadowy figures he keeps seeing at the crime scenes of kidnapped or maimed children. For starters these shadowy figures are just another element that creates the atmosphere of this dark tale, creepy set piece that amp up the tension at nearly every turn. They are a figment of Joshi's imagine, sure, but one could argue they also stand as a symbolic representation of the societal problems facing India, the unidentified evil that never has a face being a visually representation of the society responsible for allowing the continuous kidnappings and the rampant sex trade. An atmospheric, crime thriller, Sunrise paints a dark, psychologically-focused portrait of one man's attempt to solve the present while confronting his past.
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