It isn’t an everyday occurrence that an explicate genre film comes around in theatres. So, when something so specific and remarkably self-aware announces itself, you give it the space and time it deserves. And with just three over a hundred minutes required, Game Over might have announced itself as the most definitive psychological thriller of 2019.
Game Over, directed by Ashwin Saravana, looks like the story of a young game developer – Swapna (Taapsee Pannu) – living in her Gurugram home with her house-maid Kalamma (Vinodhini Vaidyanathan) as she struggles to deal with an incident from her past, causing insecurities about her present and future. What Game Over actually is, apart from its above-mentioned synopsis, a reward. One for caring for the details, one for taking risks, and another for identifying the themes in it.
Minimal characters and one set for the majority of the movie mean you get more time with and inside Swapna. In an interview before the release of the film, Taapsee Pannu – whose portrayal of Swapna was phenomenal – talked about how her character’s state of mind was one of confusion and perplexity. Game point to her on that, because the deeper you get into Game Over, the more integrated you feel with the protagonist.
In an exceptionally well-shot and edited starting sequence which shows us the murder of a girl in her house in Gurugram, what is worth-noticing is the perception. Thrillers in the past have shown scenes of such importance with the utmost care, but rarely do we have one where the camera isn’t the witness, but rather a part of the crime. Right then and there, is a goal scored, really, with the writing, and with the cut-out head of the girl treated like a football.
But that isn’t really it to the soccer references from Game Over. It is a film of contrasting halves. The first takes you through a PTSD condition, suicidal thoughts, lots of foreshadowing, Pac-Man, tattoos, a psychiatrist and numerous flashbacks meanwhile the second tells you why the first half was important. In a classic approach to build up its high-strung half-an-hour-long climax sequence, viewers are made to connect dots all through-out the first hour – the exact point till when the nature of the movie is not one to be understood.
Whether Swapna’s fears will drive her insane, will we ever get to know the meaning behind the title or will all these little details spread and captured so cautiously through the lens mean something – each question demanded a different answer. Well that, until Ashwin Saravana decided to give us one for all.
Not since Jordan Peele’s Get Out has a movie questioned its psychological thriller roots to cause introspective personal questions about mirroring societal aspects onto the large screen. A recurring theme in this Anurag Kashyap presented feature is that of trying and failing. From opening a room, escaping a murderer, beating your own high score to even suicide – there is incompetency which looms throughout the length of the film.
One might identify that as important for the film to live up to its expectation of delaying the inevitable until enough ground-work has been done. When all the fears have kicked in, and your abilities are taken away, you are predominantly screwed. Now, add in the aspect of failing at everything and a ‘good’ ending might become asking for too much.
But that is where the game wins the player. In a movie where everything meant something and anything could do everything to you, the biggest detail is the title. Fantasy, dreams, realisations or real life – all can amount to hundreds of fan theories from film enthusiasts. Some might twist facts, the other might change them. Everyone got to be a part of the game.