Marc Fouchard's In His Shadow promises wild possibilities. It comes with family drama, witchcraft, and gang wars. The opening scenes are so energetic they have a rapturous effect. The movie initially comes across as unpredictable, given it opens with a witch, cuts to two friends talking, and then swings back into a flashback scene. But the joy slowly dissipates, and you finally realize that In His Shadow is just another conventional movie. It wants to be all smart and stylish, though it mostly appears impersonal.
The movie is most active when the characters are assaulted. When Adama (Alassane Diong) is beaten up by Ibrahim's men, we briefly notice a figure in red. Ibrahim (Kaaris) and Adama are half-brothers. They are incompatible with each other, but Ibrahim remarks he will take care of Adama after the death of their father. So Ibrahim not only puts cash on the table but also hides his stash inside Adama's apartment. That stash gets stolen by members of another gang, and when Adama goes to talk to the gang leader, Ibrahim thinks his half-brother might have been involved with his rivals. Hence, the beatings.
Ibrahim refers to Adama as his half-brother. But the family insists they are brothers. It's a sin to kidnap and torture your own brother, which is why Ibrahim receives punishment in the form of someone's death. In His Shadow has no place for innocence. In fact, the characters are rewarded for shaking hands with corruption. Adama gains his eyesight after meeting a witch, and the vision only gets clearer when he commits murder. He emerges as the winner because he plays a deceptive game and manipulates the violent gang members. The phrase, "Embrace your weakness. Look to make it your strength," is more cunning and less motivational.
Yet, despite all these touches, In His Shadow fails to strike an emotional chord. It always keeps you at arm's length. When an animal is stabbed or during a chase sequence, the pulse of the movie rises, though all it does is grab the audience by the shoulders and shake them. "Look at this and feel something!" it screams at us. You hear a sad score when a human and a dog lie side by side on the ground. It's just the movie straining itself for an emotional effect. In His Shadow does everything it can, but it still fails to make us care for anyone. You also don't feel excited or say, "Aha!" when Adama wins in the end. Forget excitement or any other sentiment. All you are left with is a blank expression.
One of the advantages of being blind, In His Shadow tells us, is that no one suspects you of being a criminal. You cannot help but recall Sriram Raghavan's Andhadhun, where Akash, a piano player, similarly informed us about the advantages of being a blind person. Raghavan's movie has style, suspense, and substance. You are on edge from the beginning to the end. Andhadhun also greatly benefitted from the presence (and performances) of actors like Ayushmann Khurrana, Radhika Apte, and an outstanding Tabu. The actors in In His Shadows don't offer us the same rewards. They seem to be dutifully following the screenplay, telling us precisely whatever it is that's fed to them. Nobody is terrible. However, no one is more than just watchable. If you want to watch a movie about a "blind" man who survives through deception, go for Andhadhun.
Final Score- [5/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
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