RRR

RRR ★★★★★

RRR was at my local theater for a few weeks but I just never made the time. So I was very happy to see it suddenly show up on Netflix (though not unhappy I didn't see it on the big screen). It's a three hour long epic that I thought I was going to have to watch in shifts... but dammit if the movie didn't suck me in and get a solid three hour block of my life. And I ain't even mad.

RRR (short for Rise, Roar, Revolt) is set in 1920 during British rule of India. The military governor "buys" a little Indian girl from her village and has her taken to the palace. Her brother follows after to free her. An Indian policeman (a supercop) working for the British is tasked with tracking him down. The two men randomly meet (while saving lives) and, not realizing who the other is, form a bromance for the ages. At least until they discover each others identities.

This movie is brilliantly over-the-top charming and brilliantly over-the-top badass and brilliantly over-the-top in pretty much every other way a movie can go over-the-top. If I wasn't grinning like an idiot at a super fun dance number, I was laughing out loud at some of the most ridiculously wild and gloriously silly action scenes. And then the tone shifts wildly and we watch a charming meet-cute full of cultural misunderstandings and later a harrowing torture scene that's as hard to watch as it is inspiring.

This movie is three hours of wild tone shifts and some of the most marvelous overkill I've seen. And yet it also takes time out for some gentle romantic comedy and joyous dance numbers. The major dance number in the middle of the film is such an explosion of charm and fun. I know, saying an Indian film has dance numbers is saying a Santa Claus movie is set at the North Pole. To me it was amazing, to someone steeped in this kind of cinema, it was probably just Tuesday.

I have no idea who the two leads are but I imagine they are titans of Indian cinema. They do a great job... though the tonal shifts of the movie are such that they seem to be very different people from their introductions to later scenes. I can't be mad though... it's such gloriously silly fun... and they certainly turn back into their superbad selves by the cackle-worth ending.

These action scenes are one endless string of "I don't think I've ever seen that before" moments after another. I was constantly breaking out in appreciative laughter as the movie chucked physics and logic aside. Like they saw the "grounded reality" of Captain America and said, "yeah, we can do that better". Such inventive and exuberant fun.

The British imperialist baddies are appropriately Snidely. There's a opening disclaimer longer than a soccer pitch assuring us that nothing in this movie is meant to be offensive (or realistic or believable or historically accurate). And then it proceeds to stick all its thumbs in the eyes of the British occupiers, probably twisting history into pretzels. But that's ok... we need some to boo and hiss at.

And I know there were some things I didn't get about the film. Cultural differences and my ignorance of Indian history and culture at work. Nothing that couldn't be inferred or interpreted though. But I know I'm watching a different movie than others are when I don't recognize the specific cultural meaning of flags in a couple different scenes. Or I can infer the meaning of a particular archer statue, but not knowing the details means the iconography of the final action scene was a little lost on me. Not that it matters - it's all still pretty awesome.

Great tunes in the film too. Reading the subtitles, it's aggressively charming that every song is basically a Greek chorus. In case we didn't understand the deeper meaning, the singers let us know. And then they bring one of those songs back at just the right time to actually elicit honest emotions.

I really enjoyed this film. I don't want it to sound like I dig it because it's this bad-ass piece of over-the-top macho bro buddy action flick. I mean, it is that... but it's also a sweet charming romance, a flag-waving song of defiance, a blast of a dance movie, and so much more. Mix it all up and you either get one of the year's best movies... or possibly just Tuesday at the Indian cinema. I really loved it.

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