This Indian title was an odd choice for an opening night film. Even though it fits the tattered bill of ‘upbeat’ and (ostensibly) ‘crowdpleasing’, it’s a thoroughly confused mishmash of ideas, none of which manage to be very effective at all. Centred on two brothers identified only as Big and Little Crow’s Egg, The Crow’s Egg starts off by establishing their impoverished milieu – their father is in prison, their mother works in a factory, their grandmother keeps an eye on them during the day, and they collect shards of coal and sell it for tiny amounts of money to help out.
When the vacant lot they usually play with is sold for development – and the tree from which they retrieve and eat the crow eggs that give them their nickname is lopped down – they become despondent. But the development ends up being a pizza joint called Pizza Spot, and they become obsessed with the prospect of tasting pizza for the first time. This becomes the main thrust of the film: two dirt-poor Indian kids scrounging for the 300 rupees – they might make 10 on a good day – the pizza will cost.
It doesn’t end there, though, and an incident involving the pizza store’s owners spawns a number of subplots, none of which are interesting or satisfying. The major problem with The Crow’s Egg, though, is that the kids – played admittedly well by Ramesh and Ramesh Thilaganathan – are written as rather bratty, so rooting for them is occasionally difficult when the film takes its more erratic narrative turns.
The Crow’s Egg is the debut feature of director M. Manikandan, which makes some sense of the film’s unwieldiness. There are just too many different ideas here, from the reliance on poorly executed montage and a blaring, unpleasant score, to the attempted social realism and light-hearted comedy. Any point The Crow’s Egg is trying to make is subsequently undone by a lame ending, leaving you mostly expressing surprise that a 99 minute film could feel so long.
[rating=1] and a half
Laurence Barber - follow Laurence on Twitter at @bortlb.