Trapped movie review: Despite some heart-in-the-mouth moments, Rajkummar Rao's Trapped stays uneven as his despair stays on the surface when we want to see the soul.
What would you do if you are stuck in an empty high rise without food, water and electricity, your cellphone juiced out, no one in the know, and no way out? The premise of Trapped is instantly gripping. Being trapped, without a single vestige of hope or help, is one of our primal fears. And many brilliant films have been made on the subject: the one that has the maximum recall is Danny Boyle’s harrowing ‘127 Hours’, about a mountaineer trapped in a cave. The film is a testament to the indomitable human spirit and its incredible resistance to pain and fear and terror.
Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao) gets inveigled into an unfinished apartment in an uninhabited building. The door, with the key on the wrong side, that slams on his face is also a shutter on his hopes of a future with the girl (Geetanjali Thapa) he has fallen for.
The enormity of his plight doesn’t dawn on him immediately. How can it, when you are in the middle of Mumbai, the city which never sleeps and where the hub-bub never subsides? Can you, with the multitudes around you, not to be heard? Can you actually starve to death? Short answer, yes.
The trouble with Trapped, in which Rao is practically a solo act, is that it is uneven. There are not enough genuinely scary heart-in-mouth moments. Shaurya’s despair stays mostly on the surface: we see his jeans getting loose, his ribs starting to show, the grime collecting on his body, but I wanted to see more of the soul. Rao is more than capable of stripping down to the essentials, and showing us the truth, which is why he is such a powerful actor. Here I couldn’t see enough of his insides.
And the tension, which in the best tales of surviving against all odds is a constant thrum, keeps leaching out. At one stage, when he, and you, stare at hope, and then see it recede, is suitably dark. And then it slackens again: a film like this one needs to keep us wired. Trapped also has a powerful philosophical sub-text: can you be completely isolated in a crowd? You don’t have to be physically trapped within four walls to feel alone: you could be in a vast crowd, and see peoples’ eyes graze over you, not registering you, the essence of you. That is true horror. In the film’s best moments, the supremely talented Rao gets us to feel just that.
Rao shares the film’s other really fine passage with a furry creature he starts out being terrified of: his being able to walk past his terror, and share his feelings out loud, tells us just how communication can make even the blackest hours better. You wish there were more of these moments. Given Motwane’s skills at creating emotions, and Rao’s ability to channel them, Trapped doesn’t take us as far over the edge it could, or should have.
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