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Malli is a 19 year old girl, who joined a terrorist organization at a very young age after her brother was killed in the cause. Now in her young adulthood, she volunteers for a suicide assassination mission to kill a VIP in the service of her cause. With intricate preparations and seemingly firm resolve, she makes her way to the target area where the plot will be executed. However, events occur that make her question her determination to complete her mission and the very nature of the sacrifice that she is called upon to make. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The strong side of "The Terrorist" is its realism, its weak side is its romanticism. That it has sides that don't integrate is its biggest problem.
Yes, the personal is political, but it should never subsume the political. Important social issues and serious collective structures cannot be reduced to psychology, nor can a specific liberation effort be universalized. Although this Sri Lankan resistance force is viewed rather fairly and quietly for a good while, in the end, it's stereotyped as a manipulative, doctrinaire organization, demanding and glorifying martyrdom. (It's as if the more individualized and symbolic Malli becomes, the more generalized and symbolic of terror the resistance army becomes) But more disturbing is the swallowing up of the content of the actual movement for social justice of an oppressed people. What is it that drives this extreme tactic in the first place. And why isn't this central to Malli's thoughts? And why and how does angst-ridden thinking under such dire circumstances make sense? All the hard training, planning and danger involved in such an action gets eclipsed by all this personal conscience material. And the heavy reliance on close-ups merely underscores this separation of the individual from the collective. As does the over the top symbols engineered through the love story, the pregnancy (sex with a dying soldier is the winner), and the potential birth--of a son (?).
This is not to say Malli's inner life is not important, but rather that it's focused on at the expense of the outward world-bound look that is the pivotal contribution of any social change movement. Who can Malli be or become without this perception of the injustice and inequality endured by her people? This whole yes-no Macbeth kind of thing strips the actual in favor of the universal. What we really want to know about her, but cannot know because of her isolation, is whether she is a part of the resistance, and if so, what will be her participation within it? How does a woman find her place in it? Malli can certainly find a place with Vasu and with the dying rebel because both men are singularly un-male (and lend much to the film). But they are also quite removed from time--one by circumstance, the other by his choice to live outside the greater social fabric, preferring the path of wisdom to the path of history, and thus outside the resistance that Malli is tied to. Imagine a film with Malli and Vasu sparring with each other's opposing positions or philosophies as she prepares for her action--much more interesting I think.
PS The provocatively negative title only reinforces the apolitical nature of the film. (not sure of the Indian title)
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