Lorni - The Flaneur

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Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Lorni - The Flaneur
"Hussain is magnetic in the main role - with Shem every inch the cool, flaneur, with his leather coats and desert dry observations" | Photo: Wanphrang Diengdoh

Wanphrang Diengdoh's Lorni - The Flaneur is part shaggy dog story, part gumshoe noir, narrated in mellifluous tones by two-bit detective Shem (Adil Hussain, Life of Pi) who comes, as is customary with such tales, with a troubled back story of his own. Diengdoh brings dry humour and cultural specificity to his debut feature, which is set in Shillong, the capital of the north-east Indian sate of Meghalaya - home to the indigenous Khasi people. The title refers, not to a character, but to the Khasi word "lorni", used to describe an inquisitive person.

Shillong may be a city in size but the vibe here is small town, as the mostly out of work Shem - who is half-Khasi himself - spends his days between crossword solving in his tiny office and soaking up the gossip at the local bar/coffee shop, complete with its crowd of quirky regulars. An encounter with a beautiful femme fatale (Dawiat Syiem) brings a mission to investigate a series of robberies involving artefacts of significance to the Khasi. As Shem digs deeper, the film, like the community where it is set, fully embraces folkloric elements as part of the everyday, giving a twist to a tale that considers the impact of personal and societal loss.

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Hussain is magnetic in the main role - with Shem every inch the cool, flâneur, with his leather coats and desert dry observations. The acting ability, unfortunately, doesn't extend right across the cast and the chemistry between him and his femme fatale gets stuck on low heat when it ought to be sizzling. Cinematographer Paramesh Deka shoots fluidly throughout, although the decision to have the camera spin round one of Shem's dinner dates - presumably in a bid to distract from how long and talky the scene is - ends up inducing motion sickness more than emotion. Although the meanderings, and occasional confusions of the story, never quite match the strength of the film's more general mood - bolstered by its eclectic, jazzy soundtrack - Hussain ensures Diengdoh is mostly able to keep this shaggy dog on a lead and helps it hits a poignant note at the right moment.

Reviewed on: 26 Dec 2019
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Shillong is a small town with a self-fashioned out-of-work private detective who escapes the monotony of his drab life when he is tasked with investigating the disappearance of objects of great cultural value. Looking for one thing, he discovers something else…

Director: Wanphrang Diengdoh

Writer: Wanphrang Diengdoh

Starring: Adil Hussain

Year: 2019

Runtime: 107 minutes

Country: India

Festivals:

Black Nights 2019

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