Lucia Lane, an English writer by way of the US, arrives in Bombay to watch the filming of one of her novels. She's nearing middle age, she's had several husbands, she's lonely and ...
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Lucia Lane, an English writer by way of the US, arrives in Bombay to watch the filming of one of her novels. She's nearing middle age, she's had several husbands, she's lonely and self-absorbed. Hari, a screenwriter, offers to show her around. She's interested only in the film's leading man, Vikram, younger than she, married, and building a career as a matinee idol. Lucia takes every opportunity to be near "V," making scenes in front of his wife, demanding his attentions. Hari is long-suffering, carrying Lucia's messages to V, helping her out when the affair gets out of hand. Meanwhile, V's career suffers, with unpleasant repercussions. Who will bring things to a halt? Written by
I don't know of many films that explore behind the scenes of the prolific Indian film industry, but I love the view into a new world offered by this one. In general, I like the films of Merchant-Ivory- they are almost always beautiful, well-crafted, well-acted and excellent at handling delicate subject matter, subtle emotions, and stories of character growth and psychology. I think BOMBAY TALKIE is one of the best, on par with the later triumphs of A ROOM WITH A VIEW, HOWARD'S END and REMAINS OF THE DAY. Visually, the movie has that stunning, crisp, breath-taking combination of color, light and space that made every frame of A ROOM WITH A VIEW so wonderful to watch- and the beauty of the film's (BOMBAY TALKIE)visuals are especially nice considering it was made in 1970. The use of music, singing and dance also bring an interesting quirkiness to the film, and help present the world of the characters- all of whom are interesting, especially the hero, his wife Marla (who gives a stunning performance), and his ex-girlfriend (the scene between her and the hero, once Lucia has left him to follow a guru, is one of the most beautifully executed late night conversation scenes I've ever seen, and gives so much insight into a relatively insignificant character's life and relationships- on par with the drinking scene in Hal Hartley's SIMPLE MEN). Most fantastic about this film was the screenplay- one of Ruth Prawer Jbvala's better ones, well-directed (as usual) by James Ivory. It is poetic, when it needs to be, sinister when the moment calls for it, and it ties nicely into the ending with excellent stops along the way to comment on Hollywood film making, sham-spiritualism quests by Westerners in India, the loneliness of art, the stupidity of petty, fear-controlled people, and the destructive quality of unhealthy obsession. A fine, enjoyable film, not at all dated, not for everyone by any means, but worth looking into if you're interested in seeing something different.
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