Dear Zindagi **
Dir: Gauri Shinde
Starring: Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan, Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar, Angad Bedi, Ira Dubey, Yashaswini Dayama
Too talky, with lots of pseudo pop psychology and lots of unnaturally “natural” dialogue centring round an unlikable protagonist (Alia Bhatt’s irritating commitment-phobe Kaira) the first half of Dear Zindagi is a particular slog. The movie manages to redeem itself somewhat in its second half and features a pretty strong performance from Alia Bhatt (she’s turned into quite an actress) but the close-to-disastrous first half of the movie is too much to overcome.
Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish had its contrivances and its predictability but it also had a relatable core. Dear Zindagi touches that kind of authenticity only sparingly. A couple of scenes (where Bhatt really shines) do help you to understand Kaira’s issues but they are a bit simplistically handled with psychiatrist Jehangir Khan (Shahrukh Khan, nicely restrained) spouting postcard level homilies, witticisms and profundities. If you chopped off about an hour of this two and a half hour film and eased back on some of the pop psychology you could have had something here. As it stands, watch Dear Zindagi only if you are an Alia Bhatt fan.
Cut to chase: Self-indulgent and overly long.
The Accountant ***
Dir: Gavin O’Connor
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, J.K. Simmons, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Lithgow
Ben Affleck plays, Christian Wolff (actually a pseudonym), a mildly autistic mathematical genius who also has another set of particular skills (to borrow a phrase from Liam Neeson’s Taken movies). So he not only solves his various customers’ (some of whom live their lives in the shadows and don’t exactly have legal businesses) accountancy problems but also problems of a more physical kind.
When Christian gets called in to find some missing money at a robotics company which is about to go public, he finds his hands full with more than he bargained for. Plus he has to look out for a low level accountant at the firm (Anna Kendrick, quite good) who first identified the possibly missing funds and who now could be in mortal danger. Not only that but he also has two US Treasury agents hot on his tail. And there’s another guy out there (Jon Bernthal) who appears to possess the same particular set of skills – what’s his agenda? And who’s that mysterious British woman who sends Christian out on his assignments?
As these separate threads start to converge and we uncover Christian’s backstory the movie gets increasingly ridiculous. But director Gavin O’Connor and Affleck hold your attention with the noir-ish atmosphere they create and the action sequences are fun, fast and furious. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing another adventure of The Accountant after this.
Cut to chase: Kind of ridiculous but a fun action-er nevertheless.
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Rating system: *Not on your life ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection