The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir
Jacob Richardson | 24/04/2019
Lacking the production quality of a more mainstream film The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir nevertheless manages to capture some of the fantastical whimsy of the story.
Ajatashatru "Aja" Lavash Patel (Dhanush) grew up in a small neighbourhood in Mumbai, India, told fantastic tales about travelling to Paris by his mother. He is a trickster and a magician, but it isn’t until the untimely death of his mother that he performs his greatest magic trick; wrangling enough money to fly to Paris with a 100 euro note, love letters from his estranged father to his mother, and the clothes on his back. Once there, he visits IKEA to experience the furniture from the only magazine he had access to as a kid, and runs into the beautiful American Marie Riviere (Erin Moriarty) who he immediately develops a bond with. Alas, before their second date, Aja is bundled off to the UK in an IKEA wardrobe, confused for a refugee and shipped to Spain, chased through the streets of Rome by a gun wielding mafioso, left adrift in a hot air balloon over the ocean, robbed on a tanker bound for Libya and much, much more. Will his extraordinary journey lead him back to Paris, and will Marie still be waiting?
Ken Scott does a pretty good job with The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir. That may not sound like high praise, but for the director of such all-time classics as the Vince Vaughn vehicles Delivery Man and Unfinished Business, it bloody well is. Because with this movie, he has managed to actually capture some of the heart of the story, and all the wobbly visuals and broad brush characters can’t take that away.
He’s aided by a good but not great performance by Dhanush, who manages to capture the unwavering optimism of Aja quite well. Some of the more dramatic and romantic moments probably leave a little to be desired, but the key character traits are all there.
Scott seems intent on brushing through the story as whimsically as possible, and at times this really doesn’t work. In particular, the scenes in India don’t carry the weight that they should. But at other times, he captures something really beautiful; whether it is the indoors of a Parisian IKEA, a Roman hotel or a hot air baloon ride.
There are great moments of levity in the movie, and a couple of laugh out loud bits. The problem with The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir is in the dramatic moments, which don’t always land, and the suspension of disbelief. Too often, Scott glazes over plot points or characters because he just has so much extraordinary journey to get through. That makes for a fun film, but not necessarily a remarkable one.
A fantastic exploration of whimsy without the dramatic heft needed to make it a truly great film.