NEEDED SMOOTHENING OUT
Sometimes you imagine a film in your head before you watch it, or at least anticipate its course. Clearly unfair on the filmmaker, but that's how it is. So, when Sandeep Mohan's debut film Love Wrinkle-Free called itself 'an anti-aging comedy' you expected just that. A comedy about people in mid-life crisis trying to cope with their insecurities, the prospect of growing old and losing touch. LWF is some of this some of the time, but also tends to meander into forced craziness inducing feeble laughter at regular intervals and then flattens out completely towards the end.
Because rather than focussing on the oddities and quirks of the couple itself -- Ash Chandler as Savio (impressive) and Shernaz Patel as Annie (not so), his older wife -- and their adopted teenage daughter Ruth, who has an identity crisis about being a Tibetan adopted by Goan parents, the screenplay throws up too many oddball characters and simply can't juggle them all successfully enough. Suddenly, 70 minutes into the film, Ashwin Mushran, who plays the dopey son of the local don (Sohrab Ardeshir, happy as ham), shows up as a potential love interest for Annie. Where was he all this while?
Savio, on the other hand, has already developed an attraction for free-spirited Indian-American photographer Natalie (Seema Rahmani) and fallen for her boyfriend's venture capital yarn for his edible underwear project -- he wants to chuck his job at a lingerie manufacturing company and start his own business. So he simultaneously chases his dream and takes dancing lessons and yoga sessions with Natalie, Annie obsesses about being thrown out of the church choir because her voice is not young enough and Ruth wants to stop looking 'different'.
The recipe for a great comedy is there, and one feels it would have been delectable, if the writer-director had kept his focus on this family and the couple's impending baby -- who, after the tantalising opening discovery of Annie's unexpected pregnancy remains on the periphery of the narrative. One can understand Savio's boredom and Annie's nervousness, both about the baby and the choir, but who care's about the don's singing aspirations? Or his son's inexplicable late-blooming love for Annie?
Love Wrinkle-Free is over two-hours long and post-interval, feels much longer. Yet it's charming in its own way, not the least because of the pristine setting in an old-world Goa with quaint houses, pretty streets, lush seascapes and a robust soundtrack that tries to keep the spirits high even as the story flags.