Trucker faces loss in moody tale; language, mature themes.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Milestone is a dark, introspective exploration of aging, poverty, the futility of striving, the twin plagues of good and bad luck, and the fleeting nature of everything. None but the most mature teens will be interested in this philosophical exploration of life's disappointments viewed through the eyes of a brooding veteran truckdriver. Minimal violence is offscreen (a man is beaten), and infrequent language is confined to "s--t," "balls," "screw," "ass," "damn," "hell," "crap," "bastard," and "bitch." Adults consume alcohol, sometimes to excess, and someone grieves a loved one. In Hindi (with English subtitles).
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What's the Story?
In MILESTONE, Ghalib (Suvinder Vicky) is a veteran truck driver who's just put a record 500,000 miles on his rig. Loaders have gone on strike and Ghalib has put his back out, making it necessary to hire a non-union helper to get the goods on and off his truck. This enrages the local striking workers and results in an off-screen beating. Ghalib, who works long hours that take him away from home, has recently lost his wife, a woman he respected but apparently didn't have much to do with. We aren't told how she died, but for some reason, the elders at the village Ghalib came from hold him responsible and force him to financially compensate his wife's surviving sister and father. He doesn't question this decision. A fellow trucker of the same age, whose night vision is failing, has been drinking more and is fired. Ghalib can see that he is next, a point brought home when an intern, Pash (Lakshvir Saran), is assigned to ride with him, clearly so Ghalib can teach the kid to take over his job. Pash is earnest and admiring of his teacher and, it seems, feels bad he will displace his mentor. Things take an unexplained turn at the end, demonstrating that life is unpredictable. The hardships of the working class and poor are the focus.
Is It Any Good?
Milestone is undoubtedly an achievement for writer-director Ivan Ayr, but this moody, depressive elegy to the way life beats you up is disjointed and difficult to follow at times. The monotony is certainly a deliberate metaphor for the capitalistic, self serving grind that exploited workers must endure. That much is clear, but for most of the first half, with little information to go on, viewers may wonder if the narrative is chronological. A man is driving a truck. In the next scene, the same man is driving a Jeep. Is it the present? The past? We can't know. Scenes are shot in near darkness, making the director's emphatic point that life is dark and sad, but in a way that unnecessarily induces eyestrain. No one smiles. Not a note of music accompanies the action. A woman died. Did she commit suicide? We don't know. Mysterious and obscure observations are thrown into the middle of seemingly straightforward conversations -- "even a shadow is mistaken for water from a distance" -- so that we no longer know what the characters are talking about. People speak in metaphors, delivered non-sequitur, the way characters might break into song in musicals. Here they break into existential philosophy. While this may tell a clear and comprehensible story to an Indian audience trained to make the appropriate connections, without a scorecard of Indian cultural practices and norms, it's often difficult for a foreign viewer to understand the social forces that guide the characters. Why does a village council demand that a man who lost his wife compensate her sister and father for the loss they all share equally?
The film relentlessly argues for most of its 98 minutes that we all irretrievably head toward decrepitude and obsolescence, unwillingly making way for the young to replace the aging. Then it makes a completely unexplained about-face that underscores life's cruelty and randomness, undermining all that went before. This movie is hard work to watch. Not that fun is a standard for excellence, but while this movie is in some sense well done, it's certainly no fun.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the struggles of the working poor. A union of striking workers provide a social justice backdrop about unfair working conditions. What point do you think the movie is trying to make?
Ghalib's aching back makes it difficult for him to do his job. How do you think his bosses view his injury? Do you think they care and want to help him, or do you think they want to replace him with someone younger, stronger, and cheaper?
How does the movie show us that everyone believes they have a valid point of view? What are some of the arguments?
- In theaters: May 17, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: May 7, 2021
- Cast: Suvinder Vicky, Lakshvir Saran
- Director: Ivan Ayr
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
The White Tiger
Compelling dark dramedy has violence, language.
Anthology examines Indian social issues; language, violence.
Revealing, painful look at women's, girls' rights in India.
Epic romance-drama is brilliant but too mature for kids.
For kids who love international tales
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