An elopement is at the heart of Journey of Love 18+, but the one thing that stands out is the lack of chemistry between the lead pair Akhil (Naslen K Gafoor) and Athira (Meenakshi). This has much to do with how their whole love story is compressed into one song sequence right at the beginning, while the rest of the movie is one lengthy chronicle of their elopement, right from the extensive planning and even the struggles to get their wedding attire and jewellery.
During this phase, Akhil obviously spends more time with his two close friends, who seem to be ready to jump into any danger with him. The chemistry between the friends manages to some extent to paper over the lack of the same between the couple. As if echoing the thoughts of the audience, Akhil asks her, “Are you running away with me because you love me, or because you are angry with your father?”
Arun. D. Jose, who made his debut with Jo & Jo last year, yet again attempts to create a plot out of nothingness in 18+, along with co-writer Raveesh Nath. While the former was written around an anonymous love letter, in the latter, everything revolves around an elopement. The sheer lack of material to sustain the narrative is painfully evident at some points, while at others, the exuberance of the predominantly young cast carries the day for the movie.
The most intelligent thing that the makers have done is perhaps with the ‘18+’ in the title, which comes into play at a crucial point in the film. The script also weaves in a caste angle, but it is brought up only towards the end. Despite the progressive twist to the tale, there are points in the movie where the makers ensure that not too many conservative feathers are ruffled, like the part when the youngsters devise a way so that the belief about menstruating women not entering temples is preserved.
Journey of Love 18+
Director: Arun. D. Jose
Cast: Naslen K. Gafoor, Meenakshi, Binu Pappu, Mathew Thomas, K.U. Manoj
Runtime: 124 minutes
Storyline: Akhil, a young party worker plans to elope with his sweetheart Athira, the daughter of the party’s powerful local secretary, who is opposed to the alliance
The left politics of Northern Kerala makes up the background for yet another movie, but here it has only peripheral roles to play; the politics is merely a prop except at a few points. Akhil being a left party worker and Athira’s father Raveendran (K.U. Manoj) being the powerful local secretary of the party complicates matters for him, but Raveendran’s opposition is obviously due to other reasons.
For a change, Naslen and Mathew Thomas, who have done quite a few movies together, do not share much screen space here. Thomas as well as Nikhila Vimal get only cameo roles, while Binu Pappu gets an extended one as the ‘experienced’ grown up person helping the youngsters elope.
Arun. D. Jose manages to come up with only some average fare from the thin plot of Journey of Love 18+, despite all the progressive sprinkling.
Journey of Love 18+ is currently running in theatres