More here than silly stereotypes--it's a thriller with a bit of solid insight into the vagaries of testimony in the court of law.
Director: Ragu Samarth (Smile Please)
Cast: Ragini Praiwal, Avinash (Naragunda Bandaaya)
Runtime: 2h 4m
By: John DeSando
Law is Kannada-language thriller (subtitled) that opens with a stereotypical take on incompetent, almost Keystone Cops-like misogynist authorities’ reaction to a young girl, Nandini (Ragini Prajwal), claiming to have been gangraped. She, however, is a law student, so the proceedings get complicated and hardly as ludicrous as the opening depicts.
As the investigation unfolds, it’s almost as if the infamous Indian paternalism, represented by the ignorant cops and a father denying his daughter help, has faded away, and the title is the real subject: Did the three young men really rape her or is her perseverance about revenge more than her pursuit of justice?
After the absurd opening and then the impressive proof Nandini, representing herself, presents against the three, the film settles into the shades of grey inherent in any court drama, with motives as moving as observable evidence. Director Ragu Samarth has a sure eye for cutting between the suspects and sufferers even if his cuts are too quick and flashbacks unhelpful because of the speed editing and his desire not to reveal the outcome too soon.
Along the way, the trial becomes the most fascinating part of the film with counterclaims and plot twists keeping the audience attentive and emotionally torn. Although there is a bit of Bollywood music and song and a share of absurdity, the heart of the action is truth and its service to justice.
Besides the sometimes-grating music and the rapid speech patterns of Southwest India, Law, like the series Law and Order, has much more than evidence and truth—it is exposing the weaknesses and depravity of humanity, together with a hope that honor will out. Not always, but those weaknesses make for frequently fascinating storytelling.
Law streams in Amazon Prime.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com