Pitched as a film that will keep you ‘suspensed’ (not my word, but the words of the makers), Fever will not have you at the edge of the seat but keep you suspended -- in disbelief -- that stories like this get funding and actors agree to work on them. Perhaps Gauhar Khan and Rajeev Khandelwal fancied an extended stay in Switzerland, which is where Rajeev Jhaveri’s film is located and shot.
I was intrigued to watch Fever to understand what a former Italian Bond (Casino Royale, 2006) girl Caterina Murino and a British TV star (Gemma Atkinson) were doing in this low budget ‘suspense’ written and directed by Jhaveri. By the end of the two hours or so, I was no clearer.
The film opens with numerous disclaimers and a definition of fever as a feeling stoked by passion. In other words none of the principal characters is running a high temperature although Khandelwal’s character is recovering in hospital after a car accident and suffering from memory loss.
All he recalls is that his name is Armin, he’s from Paris and that a woman called Rhea is important to his life story. With flashes of memories of a murdered woman and the recurring appearance of another woman who introduces herself as ‘Kavya’ (Gauhar Khan), Armin begins to piece together his past.
Turns out Armin (if that’s his real name) plays a contract killer with a penchant for scarves and costumes. He’s a bit Bond-like – smooth with the ladies, quick with the gun. Except he’s a hired hand, a contract killer, an assassin. This is explained to us many times, in case it was not clear the first (or second) time.
Kavya’s role remains hazy, but we do eventually find out why she’s lurking around Armin. At the risk of giving away too much of the plot, suffice to say there’s a writer and there’s confusion between fact and fiction.
Murino’s presence is so limited she hardly makes an impact while Atkinson is surprisingly stilted and awkward. Khandelwal spends most of the film posturing and being pensive, speaking with painfully long pauses and engaging in numerous scenes of seduction where the women look like they are desperately waiting for the director to call ‘cut’. Khan tries her best and shows some sparkle, not least because of a distracting diamante ‘Monroe’ (beauty mark) above her lip.
Within the tedious script, and the convoluted storytelling, Jhaveri slips in a few bizarre allusions to celebrated storytellers. If you do decide to risk a mild weariness that might accompany a viewing of Fever, look out for the his-and-hers coordinated Alfred Hitchcock T-shirts and Wim Wenders and Fritz Lang’s names on a name board.