Jo & Jo Malayalam Movie
Director Arun Jose's Jo and Jo has a great sense of how teenagers talk among themselves and to elders. It is a simple, small film about petty fights between a brother and sister that escalate into a bigger problem. There is not a great deal of conflict in the movie, but its content is quite relatable and engaging.
Mathew Thomas' Jomon finds a love letter that he feels is for his sister. Jomol (Nikhila Vimal) also finds the same letter and thinks that it is for her brother. The film is about the silly things that Jomon does to find the identity of the person who wrote the letter.
The letter here is just a McGuffin, a device that triggers and propels the plot but does not have much significance on its own. Writer-director Arun Jose uses it to dive a bit deeper into how a teenager thinks and behaves when he realizes that someone is dating his sister. It is OK for Jomon to accompany his friend to a secret, romantic meeting at night. However, it irks the same person when he learns that his sister is in love.
There is a surprising amount of emotional and intellectual depth in this material. While you enjoy the silliness of Jomon in trying to uncover the secrets in his sister's life, you also wonder why he is doing it. He suffers from what I would like to describe as protective brother syndrome. Many teenager comedies touch upon this issue, but it forms the foundation of the plot of this film.
The issue with most movies about teenagers is that they do not treat teens as characters. Even if you enjoy their conversations, you do not usually take away a lot from them. Unlike in many similar movies, Jomon is not just a teenager with an attitude but rather is a well-rounded character. The movie makes us consider the psyche of Jomon and his two friends. Their conversations are so engaging that it makes you want to eavesdrop on what they say. Now, the film does not get too serious or forget to have fun with its small yet interesting ideas, either.
The performances elevate Jo and Jo a notch above your standard teen comedy. Naslen Gafoor has a great sense of comic timing and emotes well in the movie. Mathew Thomas plays a character similar to his role in Thanneer Mathan Dinangal but is competent enough to avoid making it one-note or a case of repetition. Perhaps Mathew looks a bit mature for the silly child that Jomon is, but the actor overcomes that issue with his performance. Melvin Babu has fun with the funniest lines in the film and plays a perfect foil for Naslen and Mathew's characters. Nikhila Vimal and Mathew have such great chemistry that it makes you buy them instantly as a brother and sister. Nikhila also shows what a good actor she is. Sminu Sijo, Johny Antony, and the actor who plays the grandmother of the siblings are all excellent.
The movie does not have too many flaws. Some may find it a bit too low-key in places and feel that the movie does not have enough in the way of a plot. For me, what matters most is usually not the plot but rather the treatment of a film. Some of the jokes are a bit repetitive. But, overall, it is an enjoyable film that treats its subject well.