Nayanthara’s performance in the O2 review: She gives a fantastic showing in this mostly engaging thriller.
The Lady Superstar’s performance, even when the script fades out, keeps you hooked and guessing her next move.
“No mother would just sit and watch if her kid was in danger.” The line, which only appeared a few seconds into director GS Viknesh’s O2, provides the foundation for a gripping fight-for-life narrative set against Kerala’s hostile territory. The film traces the fury of two powerful maternal figures – Parvathy, a widowed mother, and nature herself, who are prepared to destroy anyone who threatens their “child.”
The film opens with a bird’s sadness as her fledglings are murdered by humans, and it eventually transports us to the home of 7-year-old Veera, who lives with his mother Parvathy, an avid botanist. Veera, who has cystic fibrosis, needs an oxygen cylinder to survive. The director’s message is evident from the film’s opening when Veera is used to represent man’s destiny if we continue to destroy nature’s resources.
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The film’s only song, which serves as the foundation for Parvathy’s love for her kid, represents the bond between a mother and her child. She is introduced as a logical, single-minded individual who is solely concerned with ensuring her child’s survival from the start. When a chance for Veera to undergo corrective surgery arises, she takes it immediately and calmly explains her husband’s death with the doctor. Veera is seen to be more sensitive and kinder to all forms of life around him, while Veeran is shown to be more aggressive.
After the operation, the pair is joined by a slew of new characters as they take a bus to Kochi for rehabilitation. An ex-MLA, a corrupt police officer, inter-caste lovers, the girl’s furious father, the bus driver, and a recently released prisoner are among them. The lovers, on the other hand, are inadvertently trapped inside the bus when nature unleashes her fury in the form of a horrible landslide, burying them whole.
In Tamil cinema, a single scenario or a claustrophobic thriller is a relatively recent concept that demands big acting ability from the cast and strong writing to keep the audience engaged. Consider Helen, a 2019 Malayalam film about a young girl trapped in an ice-cream freezer. It was Anna Ben’s outstanding performance that pushed the movie to such.
It is actress Nayanthara in O2 who manages this burden with aplomb and credit must go to the director for creating a part where a woman can be unapologetically selfish, self-serving, and downright violent to safeguard her own. Parvathy is calculating from the minute she’s held captive, and she expertly deceives her co-passengers with her grasp of science and physics to ensure that her son’s oxygen cylinder goes unnoticed. With relish, Nayanthara sinks her teeth into this part of the story, leaving the film-watcher torn by her completely unethical decision-making procedure even as she fights nature and others around her to protect her kid. She has once again demonstrated why she is given these roles in the film industry, battling both nature and others around her.
In minutes that might feel like an eternity, the bus becomes trapped in a tunnel and is set on fire. The dialogue is uniformly great, with the exception of one character’s speech, which lacks depth. Viknesh’s writing shines through in sequences where you begin to doubt whether you should be on Parvathy’s side as she wages war in.
Given the number of people trapped, it’s no surprise that the acting is uneven in certain crucial sequences, with amateurish performances to blame. For example, the inter-caste couple and the girl’s father are a blemish on the script, making the conflict less significant. In several high-octane emotional scenes, Rithvik,
Overall, the cast manages to keep up, leaving you convinced of their inability to breathe as the bus’s oxygen levels drop and how their desperation to live overcomes their humanity. The cinematographer, Tamizh Azhagan, who creates an intensely claustrophobic atmosphere through his visual storytelling. The use of colors to convey the shift in human nature on board adds to the tension the director strives for. The song by Vishal Chandrasekar and Selva RK’s editing also add depth to O2. Despite this, the VFX were unpleasant to view and have a negative impact on the viewing experience.
The script is well-planned, with the inclusion of the bird in the beginning of the film being revisited. While the tension wanes at times, the film’s key theme of moral significance when faced with death is effectively presented by some outstanding acting, led by “Lady Superstar” Natalia Dyer. O2 is well worth a watch.
Stars:Rithvik Jothi Raj