In Jithin Issac Thomas’ Attention Please, which is streaming on Netflix, the discerning audience would find layers and layers of information about the struggles of film writers as well as how society judges those who can’t seem to find a break.
Last Updated: 04.21 AM, Sep 16, 2022
Story: Hari, an aspiring screenwriter, becomes the butt of all jokes after failing to crack into the industry even after five years. His roommates call him talentless and his stories unoriginal. During an evening, as they sit around to listen to a series of his stories over a few drinks, things take an unexpected turn – unleashing all the pent-up frustration that Hari has been harbouring for long.
Review: In one of the scenes very early on in director Jithin Issac Thomas’ Attention Please, Hari’s roommate mocks him, asking the aspiring screenwriter to write stories that have life. What follows is a plethora of taunts and derision directed at Hari, before four of his roommates finally decide to gather in the evening over alcohol. Hari then narrates a series of stories, all engrossing and unsettling, but never fully convincing his roommates that they are good or at least they aren’t willing to accept that. And then comes an unexpected turn that leads to the writer unleashing all his pent-up frustration – from being blamed for his writing to how he looks and the caste he belongs to – and this is what finally holds the attention of his roommates to a point that it becomes life-threatening to lose focus.
Jithin, who has also written the film, uses Hari’s stories as allusions to what’s happening in the cinema world and society in general. How the derision and mocking that one is not good enough is held up forever, making the pressure almost impossible to bear. The various other systems at work – including the inferiority complexes of people in terms of caste, colour and even physical attributes that probably reflects their own insecurities – further add to the plight. What makes Attention Please an arresting film is that all of this is shown through its narrations sans visuals. But such is the quality of writing and acting that the film, which is mostly shot inside a house and its terrace, that it provides an atmosphere hard to break away from.
Vishnu Govind, who plays Hari, is terrific. He makes you empathise with him and at the same time terrifies you with his character’s turn in the second half. There is hardly a moment where the movie takes a detour from what it’s trying to say and Vishnu’s performance ensures that the audience is on the edge of their seats. The other characters played by Sreejith, Jobin Paul, Jicky Paul and Athira Kallingal fit well into the scenario, with each one making an indelible mark.
Attention Please could work as an anthology in itself, as it evolves through a series of stories that Hari narrates to his friends. Himal Mohan’s cinematography, Rohit Vs Variyath’s editing and Arun Vijay’s music play crucial roles in the movie to maintain its suspense – and it never feels like a chamber film. The discerning audience would find layers and layers of information about the struggles of film writers as well as how society judges those who can’t seem to find a break. One line that stands out is how Hari says that even when a film is bad, the reviewers criticize its lead actor and not its writer because critics will only get attention when they attack someone who is more famous. Jithin’s writing is packed with such hard-hitting inferences and that’s why Attention Please makes for a great watch.
Verdict: Jithin Issac Thomas’ Attention Please is a gripping tale that is anchored by a terrific performance by Vishnu Govind and some great writing. The filmmaker makes an engrossing tale out of a series of narrations that keep the audience on their toes – something that is hard to achieve in a movie that tackles some relevant topics without being preachy.