Penguin is a 2020 thriller written and directed by Eashvar Karthic. The movie stars Keerthy Suresh as Rhythm. The film was released on Amazon Prime Video and it skipped a theatrical release due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was shot simultaneously in Tamil and Telugu.
Too much plot
Penguin follows Rhythm, whose son Ajay is kidnapped one day. Several years later, she goes on a quest to find the missing child and find out what happened after coming across another tragic event.
The plot of Penguin, although sounds very intriguing, and starts off as such, meanders along the way and kind of loses track somewhere in the middle. It starts off in a promising manner, with the disappearance of the child and the desperation of a mother who will do anything for him. However, as the film reaches its half-time mark, the story gets more bizarre.
Without spoiling too much, there are characters in the movie who do things without any rhyme or reason. The kidnapper’s reasoning and conflict don’t seem too convincing when it is provided to us. On top of that, there’s another plot in there which kind of drags on too long and doesn’t add much to the story. There are quite a few scenes that drag on for too long, and make the pace sloppy. There were more than a few occasions where I had to jump forward because it was getting too boring to watch the same scenes getting repeated.
Penguin is basically a one-woman show. Which I am fine with, but when there’s a missing child involved, you’d expect both the parents to be equally involved. Ajay’s biological father, and Rhythm’s ex-husband, Raghu is MIA most of the runtime. He comes in sporadically and leaves just as quickly. Rhythm’s present husband Gautham is equally disappointing. He feels like a piece of cardboard who just looks on awkwardly.
The plot twist at the end of the movie is lacklustre. As I said earlier, the kidnapper’s reasoning isn’t convincing at all. If you watch Penguin, you’ll be as dumbfounded as Rhythm, but for different reasons. And the other twist about heartless murderer is just as unnecessary. After the scene is over, it feels it was added just for the gore factor, and to instil fear/disgust in the audience that the kidnapper fails to deliver.
A very good boy
There are two stars in Penguin, since all the other characters seemed to play second fiddle. First we have Rhythm herself, who, inspite of being seven months pregnant, catches killers like it’s her second nature. She’s strong, independent and is not afraid to go out of her way to protect the ones she loves. Keerthy Suresh delivers a mind-blowing performance, since the whole movie basically rests on her shoulders.
However, the whole narrative that mothers are some god-like creatures whose sole responsibility is to take care of their children regardless of what happens to her, is quite damaging. There’s a text at the end which reads, “behind all your stories, there’s a mother’s story. Because her’s is where yours begin.” It’s probably a great sentiment, but seriously, women have stories of their own. It doesn’t need to start and end with their children. Women are their own people as well.
But I digress.
So Penguin’s second shining star is a very good boi Cyrus, who does exceptional work at helping Rhythm. That dog was there with her when her own husband wasn’t. He was there every step of the way, he found most of the clues and protected Rhythm and saved her life countless times. I can go on and on about Cyrus, but then it would be a very long review.
Summing up: Penguin
Thrillers are honestly hard to make. It’s difficult to scare people and keep them glued to their screens. Penguin definitely lacked in a lot of aspects, but it wasn’t unbearable. Additionally, it is a beautifully shot movie and the locales of Kodikanal and Ooty are gorgeous to look at. Penguin is a one-time watch for me. There are better thrillers out there, sure. But you can give this one a watch for Keerthy Suresh and Cyrus.
Penguin is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.