Devil is straightforward and wafer thin and has no efforts in its treatment or writing whatsoever to package it
Pretty much what happens in Devil is revealed in the trailer. A twisted story of an emotional ride that involves the lives of four individuals. Throw in some extra marital affairs, and Christian imagery borrowed from horror thrillers, it is Devil for you. There is coy Hema (Poorna) who is arranged marriage with Alex (Vidharth). There is a sympathetic rough patch siding towards Hema. On the other hand, there are two outsiders, Roshan (Thrigun) and Sophia (Subhashree) who get involved with the Hema and Alex, causing them to lose to their temptations, cross the line, and invite some unpleasant consequences. When the film’s trailer gives you all of this beforehand, you expect something in addition or a novelty in the way it is presented. But does the film really do these?
The portrayal of flawed characters is not a new thing for modern Tamil cinema. There have been deeply morally skewed characters shown before who act on their desires, exploring the grey shades of humans, which were chastised a while ago. Even as Devil tries to touch upon this, I have bone to pick with the way it’s shown. We know Hema and Roshan hit off gradually, and coupled with how Alex has his own fling on the side, there is a sense to know how these individuals will end up on the moral compass. But when Roshan, who barely knows Hema for a few days after being involved in an accident, takes the authority to wipe his hands on her pallu, there is a great sense of uneasiness on where Devil places its women characters. To reiterate this, we are constantly told Hema is the motherly character to her husband, by her in laws, and now entrusted with all the responsibilities to mollycoddle and take care of him just like his birth mother did. And oh, in between we also have a woman, even as we may not side with her, to around apologising to a man, who not a while ago, tried to kiss her sans her consent.
There is also a mysterious character, played by Mysskin, that probably the director wants us to think representing time, and the ability to go back. If you are left wondering what is the significance of this character, there is also a portion of horror and sci-fi element that tries to tie the loose ends in a rather too lethargic and bizarre manner. None of them really leave any impact and leave you wondering what was the purpose of the director's cameo. Even as Poorna tries to manage the show by showing the character’s vulnerability and helplessness, it cannot salvage for what the film has done in its due course of 117 minutes. Devil also makes the mistake of not letting us know its protagonists, or where they come from. And yes, by that I mean a luxurious villa suggesting the upper class elitism or a serviced apartment doubling up as a bachelor’s pad, does not come under getting to us know about the characters.
Devil is straightforward and wafer thin and has no efforts in its treatment or writing whatsoever to package it. There is also a confusion in what it tries to tell. Are women second mothers to their husbands? Should wives, of no fault of their own, still accept their husbands when they come back with utmost no remorse? Or is the film trying to justify infidelity as mere human flaw? Either way, Devil makes a pathetic portrayal for itself. The technicalities aren’t great either. Mysskin who has debuted as composer in the film, has more dialogues praising himself than making us remember the music of the film. The seductive cinematographic shots aren’t helping the film in any manner either. And to summarise in short, the film’s title is in reference to itself, and the torments it unleashes on the audience.