A Story That Begins At The End

A deeply strange allegory in which a man is disproportionately punished for his inability to change, "A Story That Begins at the End" demands considerable viewer patience en route to a memorably bizarre finale. A nuanced perf from vet Nedumudi Venu renders touching what could easily have been risible Fests should be interested.

With:
With: Nedumudi Venu, Sona Nair, Bharathan Njarakkal, Rajan Sithara, Master Bhagyanath.

A deeply strange allegory in which a man is disproportionately punished for his inability to change, “A Story That Begins at the End” demands considerable viewer patience en route to a memorably bizarre finale. A nuanced perf from vet Nedumudi Venu renders touching what could easily have been risible: It is a protracted story of a tradition-minded plantation owner who suffers as a small mole on his chin evolves into a putrescent beard of warts extending halfway down his chest. However, the political resonance of O.V. Vijayan’s short story is not immediately apparent to non-Indians. Fests — and, oddly enough, horror fests in particular — should be interested in third feature from former Camera d’Or winner Murali Nair (“Throne of Death,” “A Dog’s Day”).

Krishnanunni (Venu) is a loving husband and father who’s reluctant to switch from manual labor to machines in his rice and coconut fields. When a mole starts to colonize his face, he refuses to resort to modern medicine, preferring to trust in ancient herbal remedies. The horrific growth has the last laugh. Lensing is pro and score thoughtful, although ultimate message remains obscure.

A Story That Begins At The End

Un Certain Regard / India-Japan

Production: A Flying Elephant Films presentation of a National Film Development Corp. (India)/NHK (Japan) co-production. (International sales: Menemsha Film, Los Angeles.) Produced by P. Parameswaran, Ueda Makoto. Directed by Murali Nair. Screenplay by Nair, Madhu Apsara, based on the short story by O.V. Vijayan.

Crew: Camera (color), M.J. Radhakrishnan; editor, Lalitha Krishna; music, Fernando Benadon; art director, C.P. Padmakumar; costume designer, Mitra Madhu; make-up, Dimanth Vyas, Salim Kadakkal. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 18, 2003. Original title: Arimpara. Malayalam dialogue. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Nedumudi Venu, Sona Nair, Bharathan Njarakkal, Rajan Sithara, Master Bhagyanath.

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