|Index||9 reviews in total|
I did not expect to see such a riveting, beautiful and moving film when
I saw Return to Rajapur. The film just unexpectedly pulled me in.
The script is tightly constructed--no wasted words or action and the story line is simple on its surface, but it has layers of issues including alcoholism and domestic violence. I found the interweaving of past and present seamless, almost like a counterpoint in music.
Which brings me to the next point.I have read some of the reviews and I agree that the cinematography and music were spectacular-- on a par with some of the great films made recently.
I saw Return To Rajapur twice, and it was even better the second time, in my mind,the hallmark of an excellent film.
I cannot believe that this was the Director's first film--I am waiting for her next one.
Although I think that the cinematography in the movie was superb, and I
was intrigued by the portrayal of Jeremy (Justin Theroux) as an
alcoholic, I was most interested in the character of Samantha (Kelli
Garner). You may remember Kelli from Aviator as the young Faith
Although Samantha is in her early 20's, she clearly has led a very sheltered life, and is from an extremely wealthy family. Upon arrival in the ancient town of Rajapur, she was clearly bewildered by the dramatic contrasts between this and her previous life experiences, but I couldn't understand her facial expressions. My immediate reaction was that this was a "valley girl" who had been miscast in the part, but then I realized that she was like the 10 year old Lucy in The Chronicles of Narnia. They were both dazed and overwhelmed by the world that they were surrounded by.
As soon as I thought of Samantha as a child instead of a young adult, everything became much clearer. She had never experienced anything like this in her life and didn't know how to react. It was as if she was in a glass bubble. As the film developed, she started to develop. I could see the glass breaking and the young adult emerging from the child.
Thank you, Kelli for a moving and enlightening performance.
For a time in the early 1990s, playwright Tom Stoppard explored the
intriguing concept of depicting a dual story of an historical event and
the contemporary individuals investigating such an event, mainly
through manuscripts and letters, most notably in ARCADIA. He addressed
similar themes, though, in his 1991 radio play "In the Native State"
which formed the nucleus for his 1995 stage work Indian INK. I was
particularly reminded of the latter while watching RETURN TO RAJAPUR,
the feature directorial debut of Nanda Anand, who also wrote the
As in the Stoppard work, there's a mystery at the heart of the story. Samantha (Kelli Garner), a 22-year old American woman, arrives in Rajapur armed with a handful of photographs and letters. She's determined to uncover the true story behind events that unfolded in the early 1980s as they related to Jai Singh (Manoj Bajpai), the erudite owner of a dilapidated palace. Posing as a grant writer (who conveniently fails to turn up), Samantha begins her investigation into the lives of an American couple, Sara and Jeremy Reardon (Lynn Collins and Justin Theroux) who spent their honeymoon in the area. Samantha arrives with a set of preconceived notions that eventually are stripped away, although she only learns parts of the truth.
The film shifts easily between time frames and director Anand skillfully weaves the story in a compelling manner. My biggest complaint with the movie is that the ending felt rushed -- I was paying attention to everything that was occurring on screen, yet I became a bit confused. Perhaps it doesn't matter in the long run, but it marred an otherwise enjoyable experience.
The cast is uniformly good, with Garner (whom I found miscast in THE AVIATOR) delivering a fine turn. The strongest acting, though, is from Lynn Collins (who sounds like Gwyneth Paltrow) and Justin Theroux as the couple. He's an alcoholic who married a meal ticket and she's a woman who comes to the conclusion she might have made an error. Her decision is enhanced by her growing attraction to Jai Singh, and Bajpai makes the character believable, successfully essaying both the younger and contemporary versions. There's also fine supporting work from the always reliable Celia Weston and Frank Langella.
Although on a minor scale, RETURN TO RAJAPUR contains some of the lushness of THE English PATIENT or A PASSAGE TO India. Even so, it accomplishes a great deal, proving engrossing and enjoyable.
I have been to India 3 times for a total of 7 months and seen over 1000
films in the past 10 years. This film is a great piece of celluloid.
It captures a romantic view of Rajapur that is slightly saccharin but so enjoyably so! The acting is good and the plot full of romance well portrayed and drama well developed. The young Samantha (Kelli Garner) is, however, too bubbly and vapid which bothered me, but I was willing to overlook this for the brilliantly played scenes from 1988 with Manoj Bajpai (Jai Singh), the beautiful and enchanting Lynn Collins (Sara Reardon) and love-to-hate him handsome asshole Justin Theroux (Jeremy).
The plot device of flashback-intergenerational-intrigue works really well despite being over- used and this film is reminiscent of, perhaps, the English Patient.
It really is a fun, romantic, dramatic, entertaining film; it's not too deep, but very well produced, especially considering it was shot in 5 weeks!!! (So Anand said at the Tribeca Film Festival)... (although one underexposed low-contrast nighttime scene really bothered me).
I saw the movie in an early screening. It is going to premiere at the
Tribeca Film Festival.
It is set in the desert in India and is the story of two women, Sara Reardon (Lynn Collins) and Samantha Hartley (Kelli Gardner), who visit there 20 years apart. They are both profoundly affected by an Indian man, Jai Singh. There are themes of love, domestic violence, and alcoholism, with a great ending. The town it is set in is close to a thousand years old.
The cinematography in this movie is amazing. It reminds me of a Merchant-Ivory film.
Justin Theroux plays a superb Jeremy Reardon, an amazingly flawed character. The ending is a real surprise. It is the kind of movie that you really want to see twice.
I can't wait to see her next film.
I thought the film was extremely well done. The cinematography is exceptional as well as the acting which evokes real emotions from the audience. The soundtrack is well connected to the overall themes of the film and plays as a great addition to its presentation. I look forward to Nanada Anands next project which I am sure will be just as inspirational as this one. If your in the mood for both a cultural and romantic experience, I highly recommend seeing this film. I feel that the high quality of its production is comparable to films such as The English Patient, and Monsoon Wedding. I hope to see Jai Singh, whom plays the main protagonists in more mainstream films, his delivery was superb.
Caught this at the Tribeca Film Festival. It's a plodding, dull tale about a young American girl and her adventures in India. The characters are one-dimensional, the plot predictable, and the acting risible. Some nice scenery, and it's decently shot, but there's nothing enlightening to be found concerning the rich theme of two different cultures clashing and then merging. There's a great movie to be made about Westerners adrift in India, but this sure isn't it. Hard to see who the audience is for this film. It's certainly not sophisticated enough for the art-house crowd. And with no well-known actors and the slow pace, it's as far from crossover as you can get. Maybe the director's second film will be better.
Maudlin fantasy of being swept off your feet by 'exotic' India, which
apparently consists of well-kept palace hotels and desert sunsets.
Really, the Indian Tourist Board couldn't have put it better
themselves. The plot is utterly contrived, the romance silly and
unconvincing, the drama so overcooked it's as if someone left it out to
bake for weeks in the Thar Desert sun.
How 22 year-old Samantha, shy as a bunny and totally clueless, ever got to India on her own is a challenge to the imagination. As is the reason her mother married a vain alcoholic with clear designs on her money. And this is only the beginning to the chain of illogic that runs throughout the film and governs every predictable turn. Shamelessly romantic view of India and human relations is likely to make your stomach turn. But for anyone who's a genuine fan of syrupy soap opera, I guess this cosmetically-enhanced version of Rajasthan actually fits the material quite well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I left the theater frustrated -there is absolutely nothing to behold in
this movie. Its fake, forced and best is to forget it.
If cinema out of India has to make a crossover appeal then one has to do more then picture post-card glossy cinematography. India is so much full of great stories then why tackle this unbearable tale?
It is real sad that so much of talent is wasted in wrong direction. If same amount of efforts were put into writing a script or a story then the film would not have been so boring and empty.
Please do not spend your 10 bucks on it, and more then that do not waste your time with this movie which fails to entertain or inspire...
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