A young man working as a tourist guide gets a foreign woman as a client for a few weeks. Coming from two different ends of the world, there is a vast difference between them and they don’t quite hit it off initially. But as time passes, they began to understand each other and ultimately fall in love, keeping all their differences aside.
The story for the Indian Malayalam-language movie “Kilometers and Kilometers” is not exactly new. It has probably been repeated by almost every film industry in the Indian subcontinent and maybe even beyond. Anyone living in tourism-related areas will also tell you that this is a true story or at least narrate to you something similar happen with someone they know.
In the film, featured this week in Netflix’s new release section, writer/director Jeo Baby takes a regular story and presents it craftily to make for an enjoyable watch. The road film has some exquisite shots of southern India and impressive acting performances by a small cast of talented actors.
Josemon (Tovino Thomas) is a local handyman in a rural village in Kottayam, Kerala. As the sole breadwinner for a family of three (including his mother and sister) and under huge debt from local lenders as well as the bank, Josemon decides to take a gig as a tourist guide-cum-driver for Cathy (India Jarvis). The girl is an American who’s just won a big lottery and is touring the world with the money.
Although a passionate biker, Josemon is an un-experienced guide who struggles to understand English. Cathy on the other hand is a demanding tourist who doesn’t like quite like Josemon’s inefficiency at the start. But by some turn of events, they’re stuck together, traveling from Kerala through Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Rajasthan on a motorcycle. The rest of the story—you’ve already read, almost until the climax, save for a few alterations in the screenplay to serve their purpose.
Frankly, we do not really watch rom-coms for their ingenious stories. Almost all these movies are made in the same ‘boy-meets-girl and so on’ formula that begin and end on similar patterns. Exceptions do apply. There are no exceptions in Kilometers and Kilometers though. The story is the same. Yet the screenplay adds a distinctive touch that does not let it be just another love story.
Better than the script is the acting though. Both the lead actors as well as the supporting cast deliver a non-grandiose performance that makes their character seem like a part of the society we live in. For a low-budget film, unpretentious acting has worked wonders. The performances are exact opposite of what we see in mainstream South Indian movies. But again, Malayalam has always had our hearts for being grounded in reality and for adhering to the laws of physics. (Pun intended.)
American actress India Jarvis deserves a round of applause for her performance. Jarvis seems comfortable in her character, which begins as a rich, arrogant young woman and transitions to someone who has found love and is willing to make sacrifices for it. Jarvis’ character changes dramatically in the film and yet she does not lose her mojo till the very end.
One can rest assured that she’s not just another ‘white face’ that Indian movies use for popularity. (Reference: Salman Khan films in the past couple of decades.) Jarvis turns out to be a well-trained actress and her inclusion is definitely justified by her performance.
Who should watch it?
The Valentine’s month is here and so I’ll most probably be reviewing a few more feel-good rom-coms you can watch with your someone special, or even alone if you’re yet to find someone. Kilometers and Kilometers definitely gets into the list of pleasantly watchable romantic movies this season.