As Seen by the Rest

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seenbytherestBy Thom

Directer by Rakshit Shetty

An original Kannada-language film pieced together from the better parts of other films, As Seen by the Rest, is equal parts Pulp Fiction, Scarface, Sin City and Rashomon rolled together, chewed up and spat out by first time director Rakshit Shetty.

A linear story chopped up into a broken and overlapping narrative in six chapters (and complete with Tarantino-esque inter-titles), As Seen by the Rest follows the research of a reporter piecing together the puzzle of three unsolved murders – each chapter progressing the story from a new perspective (cue the Rashomon comparisons).

Despite taking so many cues from so many other movies, (a familiar briefcase appears, Marcellus Wallace is namedropped, and a high contrast Sin City sequence is inserted into the film) As Seen by the Rest feels perhaps more original that it actually is thanks to a large cast of characters who drop in and out of the movie – fringe characters reappear over the film’s 150 minute runtime like the recurring characters of a TV sitcom.

And again, despite taking the visual cues from other films, As Seen by the Rest is able to build its own visual language – a mix of hypnotic mysticism in the colourful Tiger dancers and costumed artists and the dirt of violent gangsters all concentrated in the small fishing town of Malpe – that acts like Simpsons-esque Springfield to the large cast as characters and locations are revisited and become familiar landmarks in the mind of the audience.

As Seen by the Rest often feels like a 90 minute story told in 150 minutes – and is an hour longer than it probably needs to be. In its ideas too, the film falls short – the reporter character, tying the perspectives together to write her own story, opens and closes the film with monologues emphasising how the audience will have to decide on the truth of their stories – but the different perspectives of each character do not tell a different story – only the same story from different perspectives. There is an idea of the greyness and ambiguity of stories and how the truth of a story is hard to find, but the film falls over itself in pushing the idea as the films story is so clear cut – “As Seen by the Rest” closes with the idea that we’ll never really know the truth of its story despite its narrative being followed through to the end complete with a matter of fact conclusion.

The film is rescued then by its characters, each being given a depth and weight of sympathy in their stories, and As Seen by the Rest is in parts genuinely stylish – with an underworld of characters inhabiting a living, breathing and satisfying setting. But braving the 150 minute runtime requires taking the good with the bad – indulgent in length and concept, the film builds an exciting world for itself using the building blocks of others, but it also falls down where some of those others succeeded, too.

Watch the trailer below!

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