Three friends — Chiknya, Partho and the narrator, who is blind — have come together in a heist and come away with $1 million.
But rather than split the amount three ways, the trio decides to play a game of Russian roulette, with the winner taking the whole pot. They bet their lives on the fortune — a pile of cash that only one will walk away with.
Written and directed by Atul Taishete, this striking, stylish drama is almost conceptual in form and execution, telling its story visually entirely in reverse. And though the dramatic situation is typical of many thrillers, the filmmaking eschews the pacing and action of action films and creates a mystery instead. We see the winner of the Russian roulette game, but as the film unfurls, the question becomes how this particular man won.
The film begins with a riveting, mesmerizing image of a man smoking a cigarette, but the smoke is being sucked into the cigarette rather than wafting from it. We realize the action is going backward, and the cigarette is a celebratory one.
The images remain thoughtful, meticulous and beautifully rendered, with camera movements that slowly zoom and pan, following the movement of the gun in the game of Russian roulette. They have a strange, captivating beauty, with the backward action and slower pace allowing viewers to take a closer look at the commonplace sights and sounds we take for granted.
But as it turns out, sound plays the more important role in the film, with the meditative voiceover filling in key background information about the characters and scenario. Lacking dialogue between the characters, the writing has a philosophical tone, with deliberate, methodical pacing that goes against the high-stakes action.
Instead, the voiceover, along with the backward narrative action, reshapes the viewer’s relationship to watching a film, looking for clues, reasons and motivation instead of answering questions of what happens next. As it turns out, the ending was shaped well before the heist itself, taking advantage of the sometimes unimaginative assumptions of people’s capabilities — and resulting in a surprising, deadly outcome.
Released in 2007 and billed as the world’s first true reverse film, “Rewind” rewards viewers with a twist, one that encourages them to rewatch the film again in light of what’s unearthed. Stylishly, accomplished and innovative, it also encourages us to take in the idea that there is always more to a story — and people — than meets the eye, if only we take the time to truly engage and listen. The fruits of a present moment often have their roots in the quieter moments before anything seemingly significant happens. And in the end, luck really may be the intersection of diligent preparation with opportunity — at least for those far-sighted enough to prepare in the first place.