Despite its familiar template, Naslen and Meenakshi's Journey of Love 18+ succeeds in becoming a light-hearted comedy
Story: Akhil, a polytechnic dropout and ardent supporter of the communist party, falls in love with Athira, daughter of a prominent Left political leader around that area. However their relationship faces opposition from Athira's family, trying to expatriate her. Determined to be together, Akhil and Athira decide to elope and get married with the help of Rajesh, who also has a history of eloping.The couple's plan is further complicated by the fact that they live in a village dominated by the party of Athira's father. With the assistance of his friends, Akhil embarks on a mission to marry Athira with numerous challenges on his path.
Review: Director Arun D Jose, of Jo and Jo fame, once again delves into the world of adolescent minds with his latest film Journey of Love 18+. While the movie maintains a light humorous tone throughout, it deals with certain serious elements like teenage love, politics, caste and elopement. Similar to his previous film, 18+ has subtle political commentary while evolving as a fun comedy-drama.
The film focuses on early love marriages, which is often viewed as unwise by conventional society. Despite following a familiar template, with the story of two youngsters from different family backgrounds falling in love and being discouraged by their families, the director succeeds in crafting the film in an engaging way.
Along with the characters, the political atmosphere of the area where they are placed is also consequential in this film. Set in North Kerala, the film highlights the influence of political parties in the daily lives of the people in the area. We can see flags and slogans of a Left party in most of its scenes. Despite its ideologies being against conventional establishments, it doesn't support Akhil and Athira's relationship.
In Jo and Jo, Arun dealt with the anxieties and confusions in the minds of youngsters during their adolescent phase and their relationships. But in 18+, the story is about how the actions and decisions of the two youngsters have an impact on the larger society.
The first half of the movie is slightly better than the latter, but the climax deserves applause as the makers chose not to appease a particular group of audience. Most of the dialogues that were intended to evoke humour work well and the actors play a huge part in making this film a fun ride. In fact, the performances save the film whenever the script has nothing new up its sleeve. Naslen, in his first outing as a solo lead, does justice to his role. Mathew, who plays a young hardcore Party acolyte, gets to carry a serious face throughout the movie, unlike his usual naivete. Though Naslen and Mathew don't share a lot of screen space, they do have a few memorable moments
The female lead Meenakshi plays her role exceptionally well, with the court scenes in the end being the standout. Safvan and Anshid, known for their content on social media content, seamlessly essay their characters that seem tailor made for them. Binu Pappu, Nikhila Vimal and Manoj KU were convincing and the part played by Rajesh Madhavan was also entertaining.
Songs by Christo Xavier sync well with the movie, which has decent visuals by Satheesh Kurup and crisp edits by Chaman Chakko.
Verdict: Journey of Love 18+ makes for a good one-time watch, thanks to its good performances and humour.