2nd October 2019 6.15pm at odeontcr: Odeon Tottenham Court Road
3rd October 2019 8.45pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
Axone sees a group of friends from north-eastern India plot together to throw a secret wedding party for a member of the group and soon-to-be bride. However, with their wish to present her with her favourite traditional Axone stew comes great complexities. Not only is the dish incredibly complicated to make, but it also lets off an almighty stench, something their Delhi landlady will not take kindly to. With the help of neighbours and their boyfriends, the girls do whatever it takes to deliver the surprise their friend deserves, landing them in a number of tricky situations – not least the prejudice held against them for where they are from.
The script, written in Hindi and English with some north-eastern dialect, sounds like a soap opera rather than a feature film, with the drama that spouts from the corners of every scene conveyed mainly by a lot of flying limbs and over-exaggerated facial expressions. Despite attempting to address issues of racism and sexism, the script doesn’t fully grasp or develop scenes that could contain mature messages, instead providing slapdash dialogue that simply doesn’t carry the themes home.
Clichéd slapstick fails to provide quite literally any laughs, resulting in more eyeball rolls than audible chuckles, and this is also due to the standard of the acting and delivery. This is not to say there is no talent on show. Lin Laishram (Chanbi) and Sayani Gupta (Upsana) prove a formidable onscreen force, but the writing of other supporting characters completely detracts from their performances’ effect on the work.
Given the circumstances, the movie’s production team do the best they can with what they have, and it is very exciting to witness some sets and locations from Delhi in a picture embellished with traditional culture. A ‘fun’ vibe is splashed throughout the film – from the opening credits to the soundtrack to the actions of each of the characters – but the real determining factor of its success is whether the actors can persuasively deliver it. Sadly, this time, they don’t.
It is easy to see what the team behind Axone were trying to do and which (very topical) issues they are trying to address, but unfortunately for this ‘comedy’, it just isn’t executed well at all.
Axone does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Axone here: