Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Stoneman Murders (2009)

Both a slightly silly thriller and a serious attempt to deal with the infamous Stoneman case that shocked India in the middle of the eighties, The Stoneman Murders is not entirely successful, but is still a quite effective thriller with a solid cast of excellent actors. In the beginning it felt like a similar movie like Memories of Murder, but the further the story goes it’s more like on of those semi-realistic Hollywood productions which take maybe to much liberties for their own sake.

Kay Kay Menon plays the brutal policeman Sanjay who finally succeeds to kill a prisoner during a violent beating. He’s suspended from the police force, but at the same time a brutal murder is committed – a homeless man gets his head crushed by a big stone. Sanjay is convinced that this is something more than just a robbery and his former boss gives him a second chance, in secret investigate the murder at the same time was the official investigation, lead by the cocky Kedar (Arbaaz Khan). Sanjay is so obsessed by the murders that his former colleagues is starting to suspect him – and soon even the killer is after him, trying to make him look even more guilty…

The Stoneman Murders is such a schizophrenic thriller. In one part it wants to show the real life, the dirty and terrible life the poor and the outcast. We’re meeting prostitutes, drug addicts, transvestites (as usual, not a gritty neighbourhood without trannies!), people taking a dump in the street, beatings and just stuff that show us that life is shit. But whenever this is happening, the story kinda floats away and gives us a new red herring or a chase instead – like director Manish Gupta couldn’t make up his mind about what movie he wanted to make. Instead the thriller slowly becomes a murder mystery, not a bad one, but it’s a kind of let down, because I expected something more – ambitious might be the word. The original case is very interesting and I feel they could have done a much more serious movie than what finally was made.

But sure, it’s not a bad movie. It’s a really good thriller with a lot tension and some nice scares. The killer is eerie and spooky and the reason for the murders is both absurd and banal, which makes it even scarier. The best thing with the movie is the excellent cast, all of them are top-notch and worth of all the good reviews they can get. What’s not so good is some of the HUGE logical leaps the story takes. There’s a couple of instances were I just talked to the TV, trying to get the characters do the correct thing and not act like morons. For example, our hero of course grabs the killers knifes and holds it until the police sees him so they REALLY can suspect him for the killings. Like in all bad thrillers. Come one, don’t touch the fucking knife! The worst thing is in the end, and I still can’t explain how they solve that problem – but hey, it worked anyway.

The Stoneman Murders is a good, decent Indian thriller with enough tension to keep you hooked for 95 minutes. If you can ignore the tasteless sing and dance number with happy, ultra-sexy, prostitutes it’s an even better production.

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