'Little Hearts' movie review: Half-hearted despite its potential

With an efficient cast & a potent premise, the film had it all to be a meaningful affair, yet settles for the bare minimum
A still from the film
A still from the film

KOCHI: Of late, we have seen an increasing interest among streaming platforms to produce romantic anthologies. Through a variety of love stories, the idea is to ensure representation of all classes, gender and age groups. Little Hearts could have well been one such anthology with its three love stories ticking some important boxes in the representation column. But beyond progressive themes, does the film have anything else to offer? Let’s dig in.

Little Hearts is set in Pushpakandam, a village in Idukki, and revolves primarily around two neighbourly families. Sibi (Shane Nigam) and Baby (Baburaj) are a cool father-son duo, who together manage the cardamom plantation owned by Baby’s friend, Johnson (Renji Panicker). Among the aforementioned three love stories is 55-year-old Baby’s relationship with Sicily, his teenage sweetheart who is now separated from her husband. Then there’s Sibi’s secret love with Shosha, his childhood friend and Johnson’s daughter. The third involves Shosha’s brother Sharon (Shine Tom Chacko) and his foreign partner.

Little Hearts’ screenplay, penned by Rajesh Pinnadan along with the two directors, follows a rather simplistic approach of spacing out the three love tracks one after the other, but it also backfires when the focus is only on one couple and the others are completely sidelined. For instance, though the film begins with Baby and Sicily’s story, they get neglected as the narrative progresses. This is despite Baburaj and Ramya Suvi’s beautiful chemistry, and the emotional heft in their story. Ramya, especially, delivers a dignified performance as a woman whose desires are tied down by societal expectations. Baburaj’s portrayal of Baby is reminiscent of his character from Salt N’ Pepper, but still quite effective.

Perhaps the weakest among the three stories is the one involving Shane Nigam and Mahima Nambiar. Apart from some montage shots in a melody, there aren’t many scenes to convey the intimacy in their relationship. It is probably because the makers relied a bit too much on the duo’s popularity from RDX. The third story gets into areas that have rarely been addressed in Malayalam cinema, but still doesn’t go beyond scratching the surface.

(Spoilers ahead)

Little Hearts takes a pleasant deviation from its mundanity with the arrival of Sharon and his gay partner. Sibi’s initial reluctance to accept the couple is treated comically, but it could have been handled more carefully by avoiding the repeated usage of derogatory words like ‘kundan’. Though the film doesn’t get into the intricacies of a queer person’s struggles and identity crisis, it still makes an attempt to show their suppressed emotions. A far cry from his annoyingly loud caricaturish roles, Shine Tom portrays the conflicted state of a queer person neatly without any effeminate behaviour or other stereotypical traits. Sharon is always seen silent and withdrawn, wearing fully covered clothes, perhaps because he doesn’t want anyone to see through him. Shine internalises the role wonderfully, delivering one of his better performances in recent times.

(Spoiler ends)

The film would have had more substance had it focused extra on Sharon and Baby’s stories, but the tendency to play it to the gallery with Siby’s character rips it off its true potential. Shane Nigam, often criticised for limiting himself to Kochikaaran roles, is inconsistent and lacks the charisma of a do-gooder Idukkikaaran. The actor, otherwise known for his effortlessness, comes off a bit too artificial in this film.

With an efficient cast and a potential premise, Little Hearts had it all to be a meaningful entertainer, yet settles for the bare minimum. Little Hearts is half-hearted, despite having its heart at the right place. 

Film: Little Hearts

Cast: Shane Nigam, Baburaj, Mahima Nambiar, Ramya Suvi, Shine Tom Chacko

Directors: Anto Jose Pereira, Aby Treesa Paul

Rating: 2/5 stars

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