Lijo Jose Pellissery is a director with true conviction. We had seen him sticking to his ideas of ingenious cinema in his first two films, indifferent about the front benchers and their expectations. But here in his third 'Amen', he has paid heed to the popular tastes ably integrating them with the best of the imaginative thinking for a film, truly based on local culture. And what you see on screen is a real 'new age' masterpiece. Though with its share of some 'toilet humour 'and fart wits', which surprisingly gel well and add to the originality of the narratives, 'Amen' is a must watch for all lovers of Mollywood cinema. If you dare to miss it, you are going to miss the best of the creative heights and thoughtful fantasies, Mollywood have ever attempted.
In 'Amen' Lijo endeavours a contrast from his earlier thrillers and takes you to the backwaters of Kumarangari - a land where Church rules supreme with the divine powers of Saint Geevarghese.
The senior priest Abraham Ottaplakkan (Joy Thomas) and his sexton Ousepp(Sunil Sugatha) meets none in the village who dare to challenge the age-old customs. The Geervargheese band troupe, which the church rears was once the prestige of the locales, but now with its players like Estappan (Rajesh Hebbar) having met with untimely death, Louie Pappan (kalabhavan mani) who leads the troupe now is dejected with the regular failures in competitions. Solomon,(Fahd fazil) the son of late Esthappan, who loves to play clarinet is but forced to take up the job of assistant to the sexton. He is never allowed to play in the band by the priest, as he always falters while performing before the crowd. Solomon is but in deep love with Sosanna,(Swathy) the sister of Peelippose contractor and Mathayichan (Nandhu and Sudheer karamana) of the most affluent family led of the village.
As the church is planning to call it a day for its band troupe which had been big winners a decade ago, here arrives the young father Vincent Vattoly(Indrajith) who by his different looks, attires, interests and verbal skills starts creating an aura among the villagers as never before. This special man is on a mission, to re induce life to the band on ruins and in fact to the church itself.
In 'Amen', which is basically a love story and fable on how God actively take part in each other's lives, what you carry home besides this lovable pair, are some incredible moments that arouse myriad emotions. A story of universal appeal, scripted to perfection by P S Rafeeque, the movie set in the small town milieu lends the plot a kind of passion missing in metro life. Handled most efficiently by Lijo Jose Pellissery, with several authoritative moments, 'Amen', without doubt, is a best fantasy tale that triumphs. The drama, the tension, the passion... it's all there in 'Amen'. The solitary inadequacy is that the movie is a bit too prolonged in the middle of the second half which also has some euphoric moments. In fact, a few sequences, although vital to the plot, could've been shortened for an enhanced impact. The heated conversation involving Father Vattoly and Father Abraham is brilliantly penned and executed. Ditto for the emotional sequences featuring Fahad, Rachana and Swathy in this hour. The culmination to the film is a highpoint and mirrors a big surprising reality as well.
'Amen' also appeals for the characters that Lijo has created, as well as the resilience and optimism with which the principal actors bring alive the characters on screen. The The admiration for Fahad fazil has scaled altitudes to affirm that the supremely talented actor delivers another performance here that's at par with his previous accomplishments. He, very casually, re-evaluates screen acting in 'Amen' with a body language, and vulnerability, that has his grief and inaction, all falling upon place,perfectly. Indrajith is lovely in a special role, getting maximum claps. Swathy in her first Malayalam outing does justice to the role of Sosananna, while Rachana excels with his realistic portrayal of Clara, Solmon's sister.A word of praise must also go to Joy Thomas, Sunil Sugatha, Vinod Chempan, and a host of other lesser known artists who has made this a picture perfect movie.
Apart from the right blend of sparkle and spice , the other big highlight is the cinematography by Abinandam Ramanujam. Never before would have you watched in films, the backwaters with that kind of life and beauty which usually was displayed only in shorter tourism advertisements. His high angle shots and twisted angles give that very vibrant and rustic looks to the village and its folks. And no two opinions about his night shots which remind you of some brightly painted portraits. Add to that the addictive music by Prasanth Pillai - the most original and gifted talent that we had in recent years. The harmonious and pleasant-sounding album with such tracks like 'Aatmavin, Sosanna and Shap song. each of those tracks are getting popular already. The best part is, the songs have not been filmed on romantic landscapes, but at everyday locations, which makes it so real and very much in sync with the mood of the film. Enviably one song is canned in a single shot,too. The BG music design also adds a lot of pep. Also applause are due to its excellent production design, editing by Manoj and the hard work of its art director.
'Amen' is definitely several notches above the stuff we've been subjected to in the past. A wonderful movie-going experience, you come out feeling a sense of pride, pleasure and fulfillment after having watched 'Amen'. Just do not miss it. Hugely recommended.