The psychological turf that 'August Club' sets its story on is uneven, which is why it intrigues in parts.
The protagonist in K B Venu's 'August Club' is Savithri (Rima Kallingal), a regular at the 'August Club', where she meets other chess players in combat, and reads out her poems at the Poetry Evenings. She has a doting family that comprises of her husband Nandan (Murali Gopy) and two kids. When a young man Shishir (Praveen) makes an appearance at the Club, Savithri finds her champion throne challenged and herself miserably seduced by his charms.
To be fair to the makers, 'August Club' makes an endeavor, albeit a slight one, to delve into female sexuality. Savitri is portrayed as a normal housewife, with a sexually active, romantic and affectionate husband, who has little reason to complain apart from her husband's busy work schedules that often keep him away from home.
But she also appears to be as level headed as a woman of her age could possibly be, and is enormously supportive of the demands that his profession seems to be making on their relationship. The odd moments here and there where the dire need to walk along untreaded paths make their appearance, and she is massively swayed for a while.
The tremendous attraction that Savitri feels towards Shishir appears to be more cerebral initially. She is repeatedly made to give in before him, as he beats her time and again in games of chess. It takes a while for Savitri to realize that her subjugation and defeat have more to do with the repressed desires of her mind than her intellectual prowess.
The film takes a surprising turn right at half point, and the journey that Savitri embarks on to the small hamlet in Thrissur, where chess has become a way of life, turns out to be its nemesis. This is a digression of sorts from the main narrative, and when it seems to occupy a major chunk of the latter half, discontent is the consequence.
It merely takes a moment for Savitri to realize that her mind had wandered away far too much into the wild. Cynics might distrust the immediate cause that leads to her transformation, but the mind after all is a strange thing. When it rains, she walks into it all fresh and unsullied, with regrets and guilt behind her.
The casting is perfect in 'August Club', and Rima Kallingal deserves a huge round of applause for the show that she puts up in the film. She is fast turning out to be one of the most dependable actresses that we have around, and 'August Club' would be a welcome addition to her list of recent noteworthy performances in films like 'Nidra' and '22 F Kottayam'.
Murali Gopy is another actor whom I adore for his remarkable skill in getting under the skin of the character that he plays, in a seemingly effortless manner. He doesn't disappoint in 'August Club' either, and impresses even in a terribly underwritten part. Praveen, surprisingly holds his young head high among the crowd, and leaves a definite mark. The musical score by Bennet Veetraag gels impeccably well with the theme, while Pratap Nair's frames add to its visual allure.
The psychological turf that 'August Club' sets its story on is uneven, which is why it intrigues in parts. It could have done much better had it not got its plot threads entwined, but nevertheless remains an interesting cinematic experience.
2.5 out of 5 (Fairly Good)
WHAT THE RATINGS MEAN:
0.0 - 1.4 : Poor
1.5 - 1.7: Poor, A Few Good Parts
1.8 - 2.3: Okay
2.4 - 2.9: Fairly Good
3.0 - 3.4: Good
3.5 - 5.0: Very Good