True Review



by Ranjan Das January 23 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 50 secs

From The Box, Casa Grande, to Leave No Trace, Happy Old Year and Oru Thekkan Thallu, check out all the films that Ranjan Das recommends that you must see!

THE BOX (La Caja) (2021)


It’s a coming of age film from Venezuela. A young orphan from Mexico City gone to collect the remains of his long-lost father from a recently discovered mass grave somewhere in Mexico stumbles upon a man in the town who bears a striking resemblance to the photo on his father’s ID card – though the burly man denies he is his father. Thus begins a coming-of-age story that takes us through the mechanics and politics of exploitative labour, the man is a recruiter of cheap labour for neighbouring factories, and the mystery of mass graves frequently found in countries like Mexico and Colombia that point to a larger conspiracy involving a mix of deep-rooted corruption, extreme poverty, drug trafficking and the nefarious role of private militias and government troops.

Despite its potent content, the film adopts a minimalist style in its treatment; the larger causes simmer below the surface, almost like a slow burn, while the surface plot concentrates on the effects that are dramatized through the father-son relationship as it goes through its subtle phases of transition.

THE BOX (La Caja) (2021), Venezuela-Mexico, set in Mexico is directed by well-known Venezuelan director Lorenzo Vigas. This tour-de-force of a film can be seen on MUBI.


As the fortunes of a wealthy family in Rio de Janeiro crumble, its teenage son Jean must come to terms with it. But unlike his parents who still want to retain the façade of their class and race superiority, Jean gradually comes of age through his interactions with the sacked employees and a politically opinionated girl, all of them live in Brazil’s notorious favelas (slums).

This striking debut by Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa scrutinises the class and race conflicts against a rapidly changing Brazilian society with a sure cinematic hand. CASA GRANDE is streaming on MUBI.


Will, a war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), lives illegally in the reserved forest with his teenage daughter, Tom - where she is taught survival skills and provided basic education by her father. When they are arrested by the authorities and tried to be rehabilitated by social service personnel, the young girl gradually develops a liking for her new lifestyle, which brings her into conflict with her father who wants to go back to the woods.

This beautiful film, directed by Debra Granik, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018 and is now streaming on Netflix.


A young woman, Jean returns to Bangkok from Sweden after three years, inspired by the ideas of minimalism, and undertakes to de-clutter her house to make space for an office she wants to set up. As she gathers all seemingly unnecessary objects, she is gradually overwhelmed by the memories associated with them and begins to have second thoughts. Among the things she wants to get rid of are objects that bring back memories of her ex-boyfriend and she decides to get in touch with him.

This magnificent Thai wonder is a poignant tale, imbued with a certain melancholy that adopts a cinematic style that is minimalist to go with its subject. Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying who plays Jean impresses us with her performance as she did in Hunger (2023), another wonderful Thai film.

HAPPY OLD YEAR (2019), Thailand, by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit is streaming on Netflix.


Biju Menon plays a highly respected lighthouse keeper in a small village in Kerala whose unabashed patriarchal heft and intimidating ways are challenged by a group of youngsters headed by Roshan Mathew – not because of any ideological reasons: he was slapped by Menon when caught having sex with his girlfriend on his land. 

The group manages to corner him one night at a deserted place and bash him up grievously. He swears revenge on the youngsters. What ensues is a battle of egos and a chain of violence that culminates to the point where Roshan Mathew can marry the girl he loves only if he allows himself to be beaten up as revenge by Menon.

This is Malayalam film at its most robust, magnificently mounted and well etched out characters with their respective quirks and idiosyncrasies. And it is funny.

Also starring Nimisha Sajayan as Roshan’s girlfriend and Padmapriya as Biju Menon’s loving wife, ORU THEKKAN THALLU CASE (2022), Malayalam, by Sreejith N, is streaming on Netflix. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.