The Waiting City (2009) Poster

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A couple seeking to adopt a child encounters the enchantment of India
FilmRap24 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is an unusual movie which combines the plight of an Australian couple trying to adopt a child with the enchantment of India. Fiona (Radha Mitchell) is a high powered attorney who comes to India with her husband Ben ( Joel Edgerton ) a low powered musician who usually has his guitar nearby. They have come to Calcutta to pick up their adopted daughter and initially have to wait several days to make contact with her. They have their own issues between the two of them but are drawn to meet their daughter and also understand the prior short life that she has had. They meet Krishna ( Samrat Chakrabarti) who is on one hand the hotel worker who is serving them in his uncle's hotel but on the other hand seems to be a symbol of the country of their new child. These are the ingredients, that pulls the viewer into a spiritual experience which goes beyond the plot of the story. Fiona and Bill undergo a transformation, which is easy to identify with. The characters appeared to have learned some important things about themselves and the viewers have had an insight into the marital relationship of this couple, the meaning of international adoption and the multifaceted nature of India. Screenwriter and director Claire McCarthy was drawn to India by her own travels there. The film that she has created is authentic, beautifully photographed with muted lighting in soft colors but penetrates below the skin of the country and the people in the story.
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It is because of the authenticity of the film's visuals that a palpable atmosphere surrounds India's lower classes here
Likes_Ninjas9022 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Ben Simmons (Joel Edgerton) and his wife Fiona (Radha Mitchell) are a married Australian couple travelling together through India. It is revealed that they are looking to adopt a child there since Fiona cannot have children of her own. Yet they find that the process is a troublesome one, regularly delayed by the paperwork. They stay in a hotel room, assisted by an Indian man named Krishna who provides them with advice on locations and attractions. Fiona though is regularly devoted to her work with her firm back home and seems less interested by the colourful surroundings, which frustrates Ben. Where she is far more city orientated, he seems to have a greater sense of the locations and the people. Their different attitudes come into conflict, particularly when a Ben meets Scarlett (Isabel Lucas), a girl he used to work with when he was still making music. These issues put a strain on Ben's marriage as he and his wife wait in their room for the agency to contact them.

This is the fourth film written and directed by Australian filmmaker Claire McCarthy and it's a picture that vividly photographs India as a vibrant and deeply mystical place. The film was shot on location in India, mostly in Calcutta, and there is a commendable degree of verisimilitude in the way that the streets have been chaotically filmed by McCarthy and her cinematographer Denson Baker. The lanes that Joel and Fiona explore are trampled by hundreds of people at a time. Some of these people are children running along the streets. Others are just working adults, like the merchants that regularly try to coax Ben and Fiona into buying goods. There are strange abnormalities too, suggestive of the sense of mythology that has been etched into the city, like when Fiona is disorientated and thinks she is seeing a woman with many arms, only for a child being carried on her back to be revealed. It is because of the authenticity of the film's visuals that a palpable atmosphere surrounds the India's lower classes here.

There are less impressive elements relating to the script though. The pacing of the narrative stammers into its second hour too slowly, mainly because of the film's tendency to move in tangents. The subplot involving Isabel Lucas's character Scarlett is a primary example. It raises speculation about Joel's commitment to his wife and there are some weighty tensions between them but it feels unresolved because the character Scarlett moves in and out of the picture. The film also has a weak grasp on the ideas of spirituality. At one point Fiona admits that she can feel the spirit of her deceased mother in the city. But a potentially interesting idea is a rather transparent one because it isn't reflected on ever again. In another scene Fiona does not take part in a ritual and it might have been more interesting if the dialogue made reflections on this after the film's rather tragic climax. In spite of these deficiencies there are two solid and likable performances here through Edgerton and Mitchell. Their roles are constructed to the point where one has to question what they see in each other. It is again never touched on but at least the frustrations and the emotions shared between them ring true. Lucas's part seems to be underwritten and her character is a mild distraction to the story.

The Waiting City is a minor Australian picture that is rich in its atmosphere and sense of culture. Yet it is also marred by a problematic screenplay and uneven pacing. It wades through the tangents of the first act, towards a second half where the characters fail to reflect on what has really transformed their lives. In such a deeply spiritual place the film never seems quite as profound as it should be because both the characters and the audience remain as outsiders. There are questions over the relationship too, but both leads at least make them likable tourists, who only just skim on the surface of India.
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Blown away
Rex Mollison18 June 2010
I saw this film recently at the Sydney Film Festival and I still can't stop thinking about it. It was well beyond my expectations. I don't think I've ever been taken so far away and felt so close to home.

I can't recommend this film enough and without giving too much away have to say this is one of the most stand out films I have seen in a very long time. The actors are superb, their chemistry is completely spot on, the way India is filmed made me feel like I was there and in so many moments made me question everything I've ever thought about. The story is touching and so real. I have never seen the lead actors Joel Edgerton and Radha Mitchell look so good or be so likable and I've seen quite few of their movies.

The director spoke at the Q&A after wards and mentioned that she spent a lot of time working in India in the slums of Calcutta and also made a documentary film about her younger sister in India. This really shines through. She has clearly put the time in, done the research and knows the world of this story. Her message in the film is also very moving. She has a balanced view of all the things the film covers in the story. The film does deal with some complex things like stresses between long term relationships, expectations between couples, family and cultural differences and a range of other things but somehow I managed to have quite a lot of laughs all the way through.

A really good balance between the drama and the funnier side. Very grown up film-making and a pleasure to watch.

It is has been a very long time that any film, in particular an Australian film has made me feel even close to what this film has. I cannot recommend THE WAITING CITY enough.
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Australians and India collide
Tim Johnson28 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Diane and I watched this moving, intelligent and subtle film this afternoon in Fremantle and both of us had nearly the same feelings about what we had just seen. I believe Waiting City was one of the few, if not the only, film made completely out of Australia; the visuals of the city of Kolcata (Calcutta) are stunning and are a significant aspect of the movie that we saw. Without going into details of the script, I thought that an important part of the film was the subtle breaks in information given the viewer through the progression of the film; as viewers we are not fed every bit of information about the plot of the film. There are certain characters and certain incidents that either end with no reference to them any more in the script or certain characters that appear and then are gone with no further reference to them ever having been there in the first place. This is not to say that, at least for me, this aspect of the filming is disturbing or somehow negative, it is just curious and for me adds to the subtle mysteriousness of the film.

India plays a central role in the film; its population and crowding are almost suffocating and the obvious run-down vision of the city where the action takes place is striking for someone living in a Western city where everything is quickly repaired as soon as paint fades or tiles crack.

On the political side of the film, it can be no accident that the central drama of the movie revolves around the city of Bhopal where the world's worst industrial accident occurred in 1984 in a plant owned and operated by the American company Union Carbide. As the script develops, the viewer will see the logic of the inclusion of that tragic city in the film. There is not the slightest mention of what happened there in '84 but the chemical nature of that disaster leads inexorably to conclusions by the viewer.
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Personal not popcorn
KHSargenius20 July 2010
This is one of those films that prove movies can be more than mere entertainment - this was a deeply moving personal experience for me.

I'm an adoptee myself, and being immersed in this world from the side of the prospective parents, well I guess I never really stopped to consider that very much. Now I do.

Set the popcorn aside and watch this film, and then think about family and relationships and the impact the arrival and anticipation of a child can have, especially if that child arrives by 'other means'.

Congrats Claire, and thanks for making me THINK of the thing that most people take for granted - family.
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for all those who loved to be transported...
chrisbarbe-111 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
At first I was dubious about watching this movie, the trailer made it seem worthwhile but there was a lingering fear that the film would be just another add up of clichés as I have often seen in recent Australian films (not to name any specifically).

After the first ten minutes I knew I was going to be transported. I sat back, ready to begin this journey with an open mind.

What ensued was a truly original and profound exploration of human relationships in a foreign land and culture; both the conflicting expectations and quite naturally, the disappointments and disillusionments that follow.

In "The Waiting City", these themes are explored carefully with the depth and maturity they deserve. In the end, there are no answers provided to questions asked on the spiritual, or the morally right. The two main character grow, as does the audience, thanks to the amazing performances of Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton.

Radha Mitchell was absolutely captivating as Fiona Simmons, a young lawyer who carries the many flaws of her husband and their suffering relationship upon herself. Joel Edgerton naturally embodies all the warmth and enthusiasm of Ben Simmons, a musician / song writer who is still unsure of what he wants to do with his life, submitting himself to his wife's tendency to control and be the "adult".

As both lose control in a land where nothing seems to work or go according to plan. Ben rises and grasps opportunities to prove himself, Fiona in her turn learns to accept and let go.

Both are waiting to bring their adopted daughter home... both will learn to open their minds and find solace in ways they never expected.

One of the best movies I have seen world wide this year! An absolute must see!

As someone who was raised in different countries my whole life, I must say that this was a truly original and fair perspective from writer director Claire McCarthy on the experience of traveling and being transformed, in turn, by the unpredictability of the many worlds within our world.

I am eagerly waiting to see what's next!
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Brilliant, beautiful Film
dermaxxe22 June 2010
The Waiting City is a fantastic film.

The story, the imagery, the music, the subtlety and depth of culture that is presented is great to see and really enjoyable. Given the films topic, it was good to see it kept a light-hearted feel and did not get too bogged down in heavy drama that most Aussie films seem too.

It has left me with a good feeling, and I would recommend to people who want to see something a bit different from the norm. I know this is a bit of a rave review, but I really enjoyed it, and the rest of the audience seemed too as well.

A lovely film.

5 stars
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Almost but not quite
keith-2833 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I wanted to enjoy this film. On paper, it had everything going for it. Australian couple looking to adopt a young girl from India and their trials and tribulations in Calcutta as they wait for the final bureaucracy to clear.

But sadly, it did not quite gel. For one, it was too long. At almost 2 hours, the pace, which hardly frantic, dragged at times. There was little chemistry between the two leads. And even though very different (she a lawyer, he a once-successful muso), their relationship wasn't wholly convincing - a crucial aspect of the film considering they are on screen together for much of the film.
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Not bad, but perhaps too slow-paced for some.
lewiskendell5 July 2011
"You must act out of love, not desperation or need."

I've yet to see a movie set in India that wasn't a visual treat to watch, and The Waiting City definitely earns it's place on that list. The story, about an Australian couple come to Kolkata to adopt a child in the hopes that it will fix their strained relationship, is also interesting, even though I thought it stumbled into predictable, melodramatic territory at times. This is sort of an emotional coming of age story for the two main characters, both as individuals and a couple. The transition from who they are at the beginning to who they are at the end isn't exactly handled in the most organic way, but it is mostly believable.

The movie dabbles in ideas about faith and spirituality, as well, but in a very unfocused way.

I recommend The Waiting City to those interested in India, fans of Radha Mitchell or Joel Edgerton, and movie fans comfortable with subdued, personal storytelling that takes its time to get where it's going. 
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Faith-Love-Culture-Sacrifice All Together.
vikram-ry1235 August 2011
This post is about the movie The Waiting City, I just finished watching. It is a story of a mystic- love that how an Australian couple come to an unknown land to search for a baby to adopt and finally the couple discovered how much they love each other. They surprisingly become a part of the culture, faith and the society. I am surprised to see the acting of Radha Mitchell,and Joel Edgerton, they did very well. I see Indo-English corroborated films by Mira Nair,Deepa Mehta, Daisy von Scherler Mayer, Vic Sarin, Wes Anderson and so many directors but Claire McCarthy, she really did a good work. No Indian film maker can think such movie to their point of view of Indian travelers.

The cinematography of the movie is not satisfactory in the sense of motion picture. It seems like the film is made for television short screen. But overall the film scored very well. I see Samrat Chakrabarti in his other films but in The Waiting City he did very well as a porter. The same story and the same film could be more breath taking by working on the cogitate. Wish all the best for the future projects.
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