Angamaly Diaries (2017)
Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery
Pellissery doesn’t just let you observe. He wants you to be there; viscerally involved in the small-town rivalries, revenge and romance that he mixes up into a film that’s long on art and short on fuse. There’s toxic masculinity and dark humour oozing in every scene as a bunch of upstarts revel in upending their mentors controlling the pork trade in Angamaly. The town is a character in itself, its locales, food, sights and smells, that hold the story in a chokehold. You hold your breath as you hurtle towards the end and the choreographed finale will lie you low with a sucker punch. Angamaly Diaries is a misleading name; it falsely suggests pages in prose. It is pure poetry in motion.
An American Marriage (2018)
Author: Tayari Jones
It is easy to slot An American Marriage by the end of its first chapter. An upwardly mobile, married black couple checks into a hotel; there’s an incident and soon the man is accused of a rape. He hasn’t got a chance for justice. The genius of Jones is she uses this miscarriage of justice to go beyond examining the obvious – the modern marriage. There are intricate strands; class divide, a complex father-son-father relationship, friendship gone sour and individual liberty and ambition – that are expertly interwoven to create a beautiful, rich tapestry that’s the American society today. Race is a persistent undertone running through it all, constantly reminding you no matter how far you go, you can’t shake off your station in life. A modern classic.