Story: Cycling prodigy Alice Varghese is all set to represent India for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, destiny waylays the best of plans, forcing her father to chart another course.
Review: Let's face it, it has always been tough to pull off a sports-based movie in Malayalam, even though Kerala has been the birthplace of several sporting talents that have made the country proud. But every sportsman would say that new records are meant to be set, and that's exactly what director PR Arun has aspired for and pulls off too with his sports drama, Finals .
The film introduces the audience first to Alice Varghese ( Rajisha Vijayan ), a cycling prodigy who is all set to represent India at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and has her course charted till the marquee event. Supporting her is her father and coach Varghese (Suraj Venjaramoodu) and her childhood friend Manuel Thomas (Niranj), but it's clear in the first few minutes that what truly drives Alice is her wish to bring home an Olympic medal. The movie is based on a real-life story of a cyclist.
Even the best-laid plans sometimes get side-tracked, and in this case, the filmmaker uses the second half to set the course right using the other Varghese and Niranj. And he does it ably too, faltering only during certain emotional scenes by lingering a bit too much.
The best part about Finals is how Arun succeeds to keep the audience guessing. Just when you think that the film will choose a predictable path, he somehow delightfully veers away. And that's why even when you sense the final trick up his sleeve, it becomes a joy watching it unfold.
Rajisha puts on a top-notch, natural performance as Alice, who abides by her father wishes and yet isn't scared to express herself with him or Manuel. Its the effervescence with which she pulls off the character in the first half that works well for the second half as well.
Suraj as the former State coach, who had to take the fall for going against the system, is a great choice for the role. He brings in the necessary gravitas and the sensitivity the role demands. For Niranj, the movie could be a game-changer with it having him in arguably his best role yet. As the supportive friend and a hot-blooded youngster, he is seamless as Manuel.
In the initial half itself, what strikes the viewer is the fresh frames of Sudeep Elamon that permeate the screen - be it during Rajisha's practice to the top of a hill in Kattapana early morning or when she cruises ahead through the hairpin bends in a thrilling race. Ably supporting him is Kailas Menon's music that adds momentum to the pulsating scenes and also fills the dramatic scenes with emotions.
The pacing of the movie is good, save for a song in the first half. A few emotional scenes that doesn't add too much to the plot as the actors performances lend the necessary depth, hence making the some sequences in the beginning of the second half redundant.
The movie also talks about the inadequate facilities given to the sporting talents that do their best to bring laurels for the country, how they are treated even after achieving the feat and the politics behind it all. However, it does all this while staying true to its main theme, and that's why Arun's Finals is a sure shot winner.