Kabluey - Movie Review
Kabluey doesn't necessarily have hands. For that matter, he doesn't have eyes, ears, or virtually any distinctive traits except for the fact that he's big, blue, and appears to be very soft. His functionality as a mascot is hindered by his lack of opposable thumbs, a key quality for the sake of handing out fliers. Not that any of it really matters though, because Kabluey stands in the middle of a highway next to fields of growing crops. Salman, the man inside of Kabluey, is just as confused in his standing there as anyone else. It's for this reason that people can't help but gravitate towards him.
Kabluey, as a film, is visually distinctive and at times downright surreal. Scattered through its world of suburban neighborhoods and rural highways are fantastic set pieces, such as the seemingly abandoned office building for the company responsible for soliciting Salman to don the blue suit.
As far as humans are concerned, Kabluey is centered around the family of Leslie. She's been rearing her two boys on her own for over a year, after her husband's tour in Iraq was extended. Salman is brought in out of sheer desperation, and his presence doesn't alleviate the stress as much as he magnifies it.
The film is, at times, undeniably hilarious. One bit in particular involving a beer can and a struggling Kabluey was one of the best comedic scenes I have witnessed in a while. At the same time, these set pieces are the life blood of the project, everything in-between are just the organs to keep it pumping. There isn't much of a core struggle or journey, the central character is simply there to function within his boundaries, which even he isn't quite certain of. "I didn't know I could go to the store," he says at one point. Many film's can't pull this off, but Kabluey manages because it has a well meaning heart behind it all.
Unfortunately, Kabluey has several scratches on it's surface which can occasionally mar the experience. While the acting from the central performers is strong overall, there is the occasional player or two who manage to break down the illusion of the world we're observing. There were several shots of the child actors I could easily imagine took several takes before the director shrugged his shoulders and said, "let's just go with that one." I don't blame him, some of the adults are just as stilted. It's a reminder of the relation between script and delivery. The film is well written, but the words have to be the character's own.
Nevertheless, all of these quips are due to the quirks of independent filmmaking, and considering the sheer originality of this work I'm willing to give it more than a few breaks. Kabluey deserves them. It's funny, sweet, and at times very endearing. Had I seen this at a film festival I would have given it top honors. As a rental it's simply fun. See it.