Based on Thomas Hardy's classic novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles, 'Trishna' tells the story of one woman whose life is destroyed by a combination of love and circumstances. Set in contemporary Rajasthan, Trishna (Freida Pinto) meets a wealthy young British businessman Jay Singh (Riz Ahmed) who has come to India to work in his father's hotel business. After an accident destroys her father's Jeep, Trishna goes to work for Jay, and they fall in love. But despite their feelings for each other, they cannot escape the conflicting pressures of a rural society which is changing rapidly through industrialisation, urbanisation and, above all, education. Trishna's tragedy is that she is torn between the traditions of her family life and the dreams and ambitions that her education has given her. Written by
I saw this movie at the Toronto film fest. In the lead role is the lovely Freida Pinto of 'Slumdog Millionaire' fame. The director, Michael Winterbottom also wrote the screenplay which was adapted from Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles".
Even though this film marked it's premiere gala the night before, today's screening had a festival perk - both the director and lead actor were at hand to introduce the film and also reconvene afterwards for a short Q&A. Certainly makes the occasion more special. An added bonus - Freida Pinto looked stunningly beautiful.
The setting of this romantic tragedy is India at its most beguiling and also at its fetid worst. Winterbottom successfully transported me into the story by deftly creating a montage of the sights and sounds bright, brash, beautiful and bleak that appealed to all my senses. I could almost taste the gritty dust on the dry country roads and smell the dank alleyways that he took us through. I was particularly enamoured with the warm colourful music and background score which really enhanced the visual experience. The director's ability to engage all my senses was the key in opening the door to believing Trishna's spiralling tale of love and survival.
Culture deals a cruel hand to females in India, placing them and their future at the whim and mercy of the men in their lives, whether a father, an employer or a lover. I felt a sense of anger and defiance watching this, but Winterbottom so successfully conveyed this strange and different lifestyle that I found it believable to witness Trishna's series of unwittingly short-sighted decisions. We root for her, but deep inside feel there is no escaping the life of woe and deceit she finds herself in.
Even though I enjoyed this film, there were a couple of weak areas.
First, the director opted to have the actors create much of their own dialogue and I felt the absence of a hard and fast script was rather apparent. The two lead characters lacked depth and fullness, mainly because the words weren't there to give us the nuances needed to know who they were. Although as Ms. Pinto stated, it was a wonderful challenge for her as an actor unfortunately it was her gain and the audiences' loss.
Second, this film ran 117 minutes in length. Perhaps it would be advantageous to edit some 8-10 minutes to tighten it up in a few spots.
Otherwise this was a visually satisfying film with a moving and compelling story.
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