David Hops Subplots While the Name Stays the Same

David only initially looks like a more accomplished version of Cloud Atlas: an admirable formal puzzle with spiritual aims and a gimmicky postmodern narrative structure. Writer/director Bejoy Nambiar (Shaitan) pivots between three period-spanning stories about three men named David. How each man is related to the others is unclear, but it becomes apparent that all three Davids have to stop being complacent and choose to make a big decision. In 1975 London, a gangster's right-hand man (Neil Nitin Mukesh) tries to protect his pregnant wife while serving his religious zealot boss, Ghani (Akarsh Khurana); in 1999 Mumbai, an aspiring musician (Vinay Virmani) looks for his big break while his dad, Father Noyal (Nasser), is ostracized for being a Christian; in 2010 Goa, an unlucky 40 year-old lush (Vikram, the most charismatic David) falls in love with Roma (Isha Sharvani), his best friend's fiance. Thankfully, as David's ostentatious subplot-hopping becomes routine, Nambiar's stylistic experiment coalesces into a moving set of faith-based confrontations. It's thrilling to watch Nambiar futz around with tone and style for the sake of establishing a thematic progression. He errs on the side of hyperrealism throughout, as with his frequent use of the speed-ramping slow-motion technique that Zack Snyder is famous for abusing. But 1975's scenes are also defined by psychological realism, thanks to their moody black-and-white digital photography. By contrast, a magic realism distinguishes the 2010 sequences, since that David's father, a ghost who possesses Goans in order to warn David that God disapproves of his actions, is an integral character. Nambiar makes history repeat itself, but only for the sake of speculating that tragedy is not inherently recursive.

 
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