Jaw Locked short film review

★★

Directed by: #DebajyotiGhosh

Written by: #DebajyotiGhosh

Starring: #PoulamiDatta, #TapasChakraborty, #PratyayBasu

Film Review by Anna Martin


Jaw Locked movie poster

An old man tiptoes to the kitchen in search of a snack, trying not to disturb his daughter-in-law who lounges in the adjoining room. Face in the open fridge, his plan is rumbled. The young woman (Poulami Datta) lets him know who’s the boss of the house (it’s not him), which does not go down well with the old man (Tapas Chakraborty). It is the ensuing emotional crisis that causes the titular lock-jaw, which the warring pair set about remedying with the help of a reluctant dentist friend (Pratyay Basu).


The film is adapted by writer and director Debajyoti Ghosh from an unspecified short story by the celebrated Indian poet and writer Banaphul, also known as Balai Chand Mukhopadhyay. There are, we can imagine, worlds of depth and nuance in the story that have sadly not translated well here, and this film needed more of everything thrown at it to have much impact at all.


The performances are charming enough for the stereotypes of age and gender they put forward - the domineering young woman of leisure and the dethroned patriarch - but the characters are lacking in depth, and it’s a shame that the subject of the shifting family unit is not explored further or more explicitly in the writing.


The film’s YouTube entry describes this film as a comedy and there is humour here: the wildly over-the-top distress of the old man is presented in slow motion with epic music to surreal effect, firmly placing this character as the joke of the piece. Indeed, well-placed music throughout creates some tension and drama, as well as comedy, that is lacking in other areas of the production. The camera work is shaky, but this is a low budget piece which may be filmed – as with other Debajyoti Ghosh films – entirely on a smartphone, and there is some interesting editing which sets the pace of the action. What really lets the film down are the subtitles which are grammatically all over the place, leaking impact with every typo, and take some deciphering from the viewer.


Ultimately, the end of the film sets up the story that never was: all the tension and humour that could have been unspooled along the way has been wasted, and the big reveal that we never knew we were waiting for does not have the impact it should. At least it’s a happy ending!