Directed by Christophe Karabache | Reviewed by Samiksha Periwal
‘KAMALOCA’ is a hybrid film that is somewhere in between a documentary and fiction including a variety of genres and themes covering the emotional impulses of all the characters that have been highlighted in the story. It begins with the scenes of destruction and devastation caused by the chemical explosion in Beirut, shifting to a dark, shabby room including a bunch of hackers who join together in the Parisian suburbs to plot against the system, government and politics in the city by letting out a virus- ‘KAMALOCA’ to disrupt the functioning of the same. However, this multi-layered story isn’t as simple as it sounds. Each layer reveals a new difficulty, a new source of concern, and a slew of new traumas for this particular set of people. The story dives deeply into each character’s emotional characteristics and displays a sub-plot through their life problems.
The background of this film is set in the recent Beirut explosion that occurred on 4th August 2020 when a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored in a port in Beirut exploded apparently because of an external heat source causing over hundreds of deaths, injuries and a property damage of billions of dollars, completely destroying the lives of over three lakh homeless people. The causes for this massive disaster are still under investigation. The story itself is complex as it touches upon a host of themes ranging from political instability, mental trauma, sexual abuse, infidelity and a lot more. The content of this film is definitely a lot more mature and aims at an adult audience which is ready to view the brutalities in real life, capturing moments of torture, murder, abuse and mental vulnerability. Taking up such sensitive topics for creating content itself takes a lot of expertise. Hence, the entire crew of the film should be appreciated in the first place to do such an emotionally exhausting project. While the pace of the story is a little slow and might seem confusing at first, however, the way every piece of the puzzle comes together at the end makes it interesting. The climax is for sure intense and unexpected to a certain extent which keeps the audience glued to their screens.
The use of the camera for including stills and extreme-close up shots to capture every emotion portrayed by the characters is commendable. This film’s screenplay is distinctive in its approach to story sequencing and there are enormous shifts from one shot to the next in terms of the appropriate setting each sequence. Even while experimenting with the camera so much, the filmmaker has worked hard to keep the tale connected and intriguing. The background score and lighting are also exactly right to keep a spooky, dark and devilish atmosphere throughout, complimenting the storyline well. The film has the ability to awaken all your senses as the entire cast of this film has done such a brilliant job in acting out these compounded characters, each having a separate mental anxiety to deal with. Their performances can actually bring chills down your spine through the realities of such crime groups using their planning and plotting to disrupt ordinary lives in order to attack the ones in power.
The director, Christophe Karabache is a French-Lebanese filmmaker. His current style in filmmaking includes both documentaries as well as fiction and many of his works have been theatrically released in France by Visiosfeir Distribution, apart from been showcased at several international film festivals.
In a nut shell, this film is an intense, dark and emotionally absorbing ride which takes you through all shades of instability in an individual’s life. It captures absolutely naturalistic moments a few troubled and traumatized souls and adds a spooky vibe to the entire plot. It is an exciting watch with a little emotional damage if you relate to the themes. For viewers interested in such crime thriller plots it is a definite must watch.
Samiksha Periwal is an 20 year old student from Kolkata, West Bengal. She is an enthusiast, eager to learn and explore. She has done her schooling from Lakshmipat Singhania Academy, Kolkata and is currently a student of Christ University, Bangalore pursuing a triple major in BA Psychology, Sociology and English. She is a passionate writer and has won many laurels for her school through the years.