Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review – ‘Aamis’

If it’s diversity you’re looking for, you can’t do much better than the Tribeca Film Festival. This festival draws some of the finest films from all over the world, in almost every style and genre imaginable. Case in point would be the gorgeous Indian film Aamis (Ravening), which made its world premiere at Tribeca on Friday evening.

In this year’s stellar lineup, Aamis has the unique distinction of being the only Indian film for 2019. Even more impressive, its the first film ever in the festival’s illustrious history done in the Assamese language. But the real question is does this film from writer/director Bhaskar Hazarika deliver the goods, or does it leave the audience hungry for more?

Star crossed lovers have to repress their urges in Aamis
Star crossed lovers have to repress their urges in Aamis

Aamis tells the story of Nirmali (Lima Das), a married pediatrician in her 30’s. Her daily life has grown dull and lost its luster, and her listless marriage is far from satisfying. Her husband, also a doctor, spends much of his time travelling, doing relief work in other struggling countries. This leaves Nirmali at home alone much of time, raising their young son by herself. But her lackluster existence gets a revitalizing spark when she meets a fascinating young student named Sumon (Arghadeep Baruah). Sumon is working on his PhD in anthropology, specifically focusing on the eating habits of the peoples of northeastern India. He has a bit of an unusual fixation on meat in particular, its preparation and consumption.

Things start out harmlessly enough, just a few dinner dates, introducing Nirmali to the world of carnivorous cuisine. There’s an undeniable spark between the two, but they repress these feelings to avoid adultery, choosing instead to sample exotic meats. But as romantic feelings begin to blossom, so too does an insatiable hunger in Nirmi. As their appetites for both passion and sustenance hit a fever pitch, things take a decidedly darker twist, spiraling down a path there may be no turning back from.

Nirmali and Sumon sharing a seemingly harmless meal together

Aamis proved to be quite the unique experience. Bhaskar weaves a most compelling tale of romance and intrigue here, exploring the correlation between food and passion, before thrusting things into the horrifying. The cinematography is gorgeous and the musical score is rich. The performances by Das and Baruah are particularly riveting, there’s an undeniable on-screen chemistry between the two that works beautifully. That compelling chemistry makes this rollercoaster of emotions all the more relatable, they do a marvelous job of bringing us along for the ride. They exude such innocence in their obsession, an enthralling dichotomy. This film definitely hits you in the feels in ways you’d never expect.

However, I struggle to call this a horror film. Aamis is largely a dramatic romance with some horror elements sprinkled in. If you’re looking for fast-paced gory action, this will be the slowest hour and 48 minutes of your life. This is a slow-burn that takes its time building to the rewarding climax, which is what a great romance should do. The pacing is absolutely perfect for what it is, but horror fans should know what they’re getting into. This is a beautiful, intellectual film with a great deal of depth. For horror fans willing to explore those many layers, you’re in for an intoxicating experience.

Poster art for Aamis
Poster art for Aamis

Final Thoughts:

If you’re hungering for a breathtakingly unique cinematic vision, Bhaskar Hazarika’s Aamis should satisfy all your needs. Fresh off of its screening at Tribeca, keep your eyes peeled for this wonderful and intelligent piece of horror infused brilliance. You will not regret sinking your teeth into this delightful delicacy.

About Matthew Solomon

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