Monday, April 11, 2016

Love Games: Review

Purple prose aficionados will find a lot to admire in Love Games. The film opens with a few lines of verse: “Roses are red, violets are blue, sex can be dangerous, but love can be too.” Not quite Neruda, but still positively witty compared to what writer-director Vikram Bhatt has to offer later on. “I missed your lips,” Ramona (Patralekhaa) tells Sam (Gaurav Arora). And later on: “I like to fuck you, but I like life more.” Which leads up to: “The need for two lovers to be together is more than two fuckers.”

After losing her husband to a multi-storey fall in the opening minutes, Ramona embarks on “love games” with Sam, with whom she’s been having an affair. The challenge they set themselves is a variation on Dangerous Liaisons: find a happy couple at a party and be the first to seduce one of them. However, in what I assume is a common occurrence during swinger sex games, Sam falls for his intended target, Alisha (Tara Alisha Berry). He's a cutter, she’s an abused wife—which, in the limited world-view of a Bhatt production, means they are made for each other. She is the missing piece in his jigsaw puzzle, which we know because he tells his psychiatrist that he feels like a piece is missing from his jigsaw puzzle, a metaphor made even more explicit when a piece of glass stained with his blood falls on to the roof of her car.

As one might expect, Sam falling in love drives the already certifiable Ramona even further around the bend. Soon, shots are being fired, bodies are being buried and simple phrases such as “Are you pulling something out?” are being mangled, mostly by Patralekhaa, whose delivery of Bhatt’s English-laden dialogue is painfully awkward. “I’m very bad at this Shakespeare kind of English,” she says at one point. We'd never have guessed.

Amidst all the madness, Arora and Berry find a way to be watchable. The same cannot be said about the film, which flies right past so-bad-it’s-good and lands somewhere in the murky region between ridiculous and pitiable. A final word of praise for the background score: if you aren’t following the film carefully, it will fill you in. “This is so exciting,” Ramona trills in one scene. “Exciting! Exciting!” the soundtrack reiterates. The shining phone screens and busy fingers of the three other people in the hall indicated they didn’t share this sentiment.

This review appeared in Mint.

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