In Remo, P C Sreeram's exquisite framing heaps gloss on even the most rudimentary of shots, and that would have been a distraction in a different film. It is a distraction here as well but in a different way, as it somewhat aids your attempts to forgive the film's mediocre plot.
Similarly, Remo also has Anirudh's catchy tunes and Resul Pookutty's brilliant sound design, but they, too, are standalone feats rather than integrated into the direction. It's because these men are better at their crafts than Bakkiyaraj Kannan is at his.
So SK (Sivakarthikeyan) is a wannabe actor who fails every audition due to his incompetence. He can't even convince his mother (Saranya Ponvannan) that he has it in him. Being freshly indoctrinated into the love-at-first-sight theory by K S Ravi Kumar at an audition, he gets struck by Cupid (yes, literally Cupid in his animated incarnation) when he sees a doctor called Kavya (Keerthi Suresh). By the time SK tries to propose to Kavya, who doesn't even know he exists, he finds out that she is already engaged.
Heartbroken, SK decides to put all his efforts into his career, and that's the only time in this film he does something that has a semblance of sense. Meanwhile, a position for the lead role opens up in a K S Ravi Kumar film, and it needs the hero to don a female get up. To land that opportunity, he dresses up as a nurse, and Kavya mistakes him for a real woman. And his halted love story takes a turn there.
Remo's biggest accomplishment is the meticulously done makeover, flawlessly pulled off by the talented makeup artists. It is unlike any of the cringeworthy make-up stunts our heroes pull off for lady getups. Sivakarthikeyan imbues it with the required jaunty ease and doesn't go overboard. The film relies wholly on his impish antics for both humour and drama, and much of the first hour is dedicated to them. Some lines really crack you up. But sadly the film's accomplishments end there.
The girl being engaged is brought in as a serious point in this film that seldom pursues the weighty side of its plot elements. Highly successful films on the same subject, like Nuvvu Naaku Nachaav
dealt with it by employing well-rounded characters and seamlessly intertwined romance and drama. Remo lacks the finesse in fleshing out its characters. Kavya is just there, only to be impressed and repulsed by SK as dictated by the plot. The emotional stakes just don't set in when the character refuses to be human.
When a drama is entirely woven around a plot element (like the lady getup in this film), it is supposed to be slowly disintegrated into the story, only to resurface at a key moment. But here this stays out as a gimmick all through the film without lending much emotional gravity to the proceedings. Humour can only bear so much, especially when the film pretends it has the sensibility to tackle real feelings.
While SK steals much of the show, Keerthi Suresh manages to not get sidelined when she could easily be. She is conscious of the fact that she is supposed not only to act but also to entertain. Saranya Ponvannan sleepwalks through the regular doting mother role. It seems like this stereotype doesn't have an expiry date. Belonging to that same group is the bridegroom character. It's amusing these films can never afford to let go of them, can never get anywhere without those bava/pellikoduku characters showing up and redeeming the plot either by being left on the altar or by turning villains conveniently. Yes, this film has one such.
Sivakarthikeyan's charm is mostly lost in translation, as we are not accustomed with him or his quirks, and this film lets him be self-referential. His energy is evident, though. He compares himself with Rajinikanth more than once. Of course he intends it as a joke. And we, too, take it as one.