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|Index||20 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere of Trishna at the Toronto International Film Festival. Here is what I thought of it: The story is based on one of the most celebrated pieces of literature of all time, Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Ubervilles". Director Michael Winterbottom takes this classic tale and adapts it for modern audiences by changing the setting to contemporary India. Does this work? Surprisingly, it does, and this is coming from someone who hasn't ever read the novel nor seen the 1979 Academy Award winning film adaptation from Roman Polanski, "Tess". The titular character, Trishna (Freida Pinto), is a humble, soft-spoken young woman and the eldest daughter of a poor, rural, Indian family. While working at a nearby resort to help pay the bills, she is swept off her feet by a young British businessman, Jay (Riz Ahmed), who finds himself in India to manage a hotel at the request of his father, a wealthy property developer. When Trishna's father is severely injured in an automobile accident, Jay asks her to work for him, and she shyly accepts. Their feelings for each other grow the more they spend time together. However, Trishna isn't easily torn away from her beloved family nor her traditional life nor her ambition as a dancer, and she's in for some drastic changes when she moves to Mumbai with her lover. To be honest, I really didn't know what to expect from this film. I entered the theatre only knowing two things about it: (1) the story is based on a classic novel and (2) it's set against an Indian backdrop. Never would I have guessed-- even at an hour and a half into the film-- that this simple premise would progressively turn into something a lot more shocking, to say the least (the last 10 minutes made the whole audience gasp simultaneously). This is a unique kind of cinema that really transgresses the boundaries of conventional filmmaking with the way it develops a seemingly simple story and with the many reactions it gets out of the audience as it unfolds. I guess you could call the film a little deceiving, because it never goes in the direction you imagine it would go. But I'm not suggesting that there's a plot twist at the end, so please don't go expecting that. What makes the ending so shocking, then? It's all due to the gradual, subtle buildup that does a great job developing the characters of Trishna and Jay as their relationship becomes increasingly odd and discomforting for the viewer. I don't know if I was alone here, but as I was watching the film, I was kind of going through what Trishna had to go through-- emotionally, of course. I believe this confirms that Freida Pinto still has what it takes to deliver a solid performance since her "Slumdog Millionaire" fame. The acting isn't anything amazing or noteworthy, but there's no denying that she does a good job in her role, despite being a little inconsistent in some scenes of dialogue between her and Riz Ahmed, the male co-star who plays Jay. He was surprisingly decent for a relatively unknown industry newcomer, but-- once again-- nothing extraordinary. To be honest, if it weren't for this ending, the film's many flaws would be significantly more distinctive and visible for me. I just can't get over how well everything is tied together in the last few scenes. This is where Michael Winterbottom finally achieves in putting his point across; in making sense out of the film as a cohesive whole. Apart from the unique structure and progression of the story, "Trishna" has many other memorable elements. I was particularly blown away by the beautiful, on-location shots and nearly candid cinematography that gave us a very realistic perception of life in India, and the clearly-defined division between both social classes. I loved how a great deal of non- actors were used in the production of the film (for instance, Freida Pinto claimed that her character's family was in fact a real family in rural India who cooperated with the crew). Throughout the entire film, there's so much absorbing beauty in all the outside locations in India that you won't believe your eyes! For the mere fact that what you're seeing in the background is completely real, you should be as blown away as I was while watching the film! It's breathtaking! This exquisite imagery is backed up by a powerful original score from Mike Galasso that complements the Indian countryside and the Mumbai cityscape without ever sounding too traditional or foreign. Music plays a key role in enhancing the emotion of this particular film. Despite all of these admirable aspects, this film is far from being perfect (though the concept of perfection is, in itself, flawed). I still question the pertinence of certain scenes in the film, as well as the strength of the narrative structure. Will "Trishna" stand the test of time? Will it live up to its original power upon multiple viewings? I'm inclined to say "no" to both of these questions, despite being very affected by this piece of cinema. It was clear that most of the audience wasn't very impressed by such avant-garde cinema, but I'm sure I wasn't the only one who admired it in so many ways. To me, this film feels like a one-time experience; an interesting artistic vision capable of marking you and staying with you for some time. So, go ahead! Whenever you get the chance to see this film, I say "go for it!". It's something refreshingly unconventional that you might find yourself drawn by for the same reasons as me! I recommend seeing "Trishna" because of its ultimately shocking, thought-provoking nature. Come on! You have nothing to lose! (Except a small sum of money, perhaps.)
Filmmakers never have been able to resist indulging their love for the
good ol' English canon by churning out their own rendering of classic
novels. Last year was no exception, with the likes of Cary Fukunaga's
Jane Eyre and Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights hitting our screens.
But while these were both pretty decent efforts, overall they provided
little more than an opportunity for the well-versed viewer to compare
them to previous outings and mull over their treatment of the source
As such, the classic novel adaptation has become little more than a type of genre flick, in which we are invited to watch a director wrestle with a well-worn story. Transposing Thomas Hardy's tragic novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles from Victorian Wessex to modern day India, as Michael Winterbottom has done with Trishna, appears on the surface to be little more than another gimmicky relocation of a classic tale. This film, however, manages to do justice to Hardy's themes whilst carving out a discernibly different kind of work that can be watched and enjoyed with fresh eyes.
Hardy was writing in a period of dramatic ideological and economic transition. Victorian censoriousness was still grappling with post-Reformation libertinism while the Industrial Revolution was encroaching upon and modernising the rural world. Tess is a heroine caught in the crossfire of warring moralities. Winterbottom deftly reinterprets the character as Trishna (Freda Pinto), a teenager from a poor family, who is torn between the traditional values of her homeland in rural Rajasthan and the social and sexual liberation she later finds in Mumbai.
Winterbottom has stated that he chose India because it currently bears similar ideological divides to those of nineteenth century Britain, but he in fact paints a more complex and modern picture. Far from being the 'pure woman' of Hardy's novel, whose downfall took place in spite of her moral rectitude, Trishna is a conflicted character who is grounded in the old world but drawn to the bright lights of the new.
In place of the pious Angel Clare, who Tess falls in love with, and the rakish Alec d'Urberville, who robs her of her virtue, we are given Jay Singh (Riz Ahmed), a conflation of both characters. A British-born rich kid, he comes to Rajasthan to work for his father's chain of hotels and takes a shine to Trishna. The two begin to fall in love, but he unwittingly leads her to disgrace herself by succumbing to his advances. Growing tired of hiding their relationship, he suggests they leave for Mumbai, where they can live together, free from scorn.
Although perhaps a little insensitive, Jay is every bit the honest and loving Angel Clare of the narrative, until a return to Rajasthan leads his darker, d'Urbevillian side to show itself. Managing one of his father's hotels, a former harem, he revels in subordinating Trishna to his depraved appetites, until she is forced to take revenge.
Unlike Hardy's novel of black-and-white morality embodied by wholesome heroines and seedy villains, these modernised characters have internalised these conflicts. Winterbottom's adaptation insists upon its modern setting, and refuses to impose Hardy's hundred-year-old dynamic onto it. Trishna's downfall isn't a journey from honour to disgrace, but a process by which she is isolated between two different notions of piety, and taken advantage of by her malevolent lover. Not only does this prevent Winterbottom from casting aspersions on traditional or indeed modern values, it also makes for a far more convincing appropriation of the novel.
Although Winterbottom is given a writing credit, the script was apparently little more than a set of vague outlines from which the actors were expected to improvise the dialogue. Luckily, the leads are more than up to the task, and their off-the-cuff performances lend well to portraying a tentative courtship between two different cultures. The early scenes in which Jay has to overcome the language barrier to get Trishna's attention are a naturalistic joy, yet even as things take a more dramatic turn, Pinto and particularly Ahmed remain startlingly believable.
Their improvised riffs help to cast the characters into entirely different moulds, while the embrace of the Indian aesthetic allows the setting to stake new ground within the story as well. Whether Winterbottom is diving head first into the throng of the city or nestling the camera in the rugged hills of the countryside, his loose and intuitive style takes each locale as it is, capturing it with intelligence and warmth. The soundtrack, featuring a selection of original Bollywood numbers, bounces off the visuals wonderfully, whilst the incorporation of an on-screen translation of the Hindi lyrics proves a novel and expressive addition. Rather than treating India as a mere stand-in for old-world England, Winterbottom attends to it dutifully, helping to create the film's distinctive flavour.
Whether you've read Tess or not, love a good adaptation or usually find them cosy, generic tripe, there's plenty to enjoy with Trishna. Instead of just guising an old story in contemporary garb, Winterbottom truly reinterprets it and in doing so finds resonance with a modern audience. Most impressively, it is an adaptation that stands firmly on its own two feet, and graces us with some inimitable and elegant performances.
Trishna CATCH IT (B) Trishna is loosely based upon critically acclaimed 1800's novel "Tess of the D'Urbervilles". This is a story of young girl whose life is destroyed by the circumstances and love. Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a beautiful novel and the story is more complex than Michael Winterbottom decides to adopt in his adaptation. Here the director only chooses to pick up the poor girl and a rich man who first makes and then destroys her life. He left many key characters and moment from the magnificent novel, which I think would have made this movie more interesting. Otherwise Trishna seemed more like an erotic version relies on sex only. Once you become aware of the novel you will understand that the director chooses an easy way to make this an erotic bonanza. We never gets to hear why Trishna doesn't leave from sexual abuse later or at least tell him that she is felling like a sexual victim but sadly we never get to hear her point of view. She does what she was told by men in her life from her father to the man she falls in love with. Freida Pinto is truly a Revelation, starting from Slumdog Millionaire, then to Red Woman in Woody Allan's ensemble YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER to Immortals with Henry Cavill to Rise of the Planet of the Apes with James Franco and now in Trishna, she has proved why everyone wants to work with her. Riz Ahmed is superb; he is charming, passionate and evil in one body all together. On the whole Winterbottom successfully adopted the Indian atmosphere and also was able to take out brilliant performance from Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed but I think he failed to do justice to the Thomas Hardy novel "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" because it was never about eroticness it was about a young girl destroyed by her circumstance. If I forget it's based upon this novel than it's a very nice movie.
My rating: 66/100
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As simple, inconsistent, and implausible this movie was, I still feel
like it has a certain richness, a mood that is melodramatic but so
incomplete as to be almost trite, and an eroticism both tedious and
provocative. Unfortunately, the movie's half-hearted sense of duty
towards a novel creates an ending that is implausibly detached from the
rest of the story. Beautiful Trishna is seen by Jai, a lad of the upper
class. He becomes smitten by her, and then some. Trishna is shown as
someone who has taken all the kicks life could dish out and grown
accustomed to them with a polite smile. What truly goes on in her mind
we are not clearly shown, but by her attitude of consistent formality
and subservience to Jai it is obvious that she entertains no delusions
about her place in the great and rigid hierarchy of humanity. Her
actions and character are interesting and engaging right up to the
parts before the last third of the movie. Before those scenes, I could
perceive her as a completely realized character.
In the last third, however, the characters and their relationship become simplistic and exaggerated, and no motives are given for their changed actions. Jai increasingly becomes inconsiderate of Trishna's humanity, and increasingly treats her as a harlot, which causes Trishna to suddenly fatally attack him. Why Jai changes from a lover who teaches Trishna to whistle and takes her to walks by the beach, to someone who lies around reading all day, waiting for Trisha to bring lunch to him, and then upon her arrival immediately starts sexual activity with her, is unexplained. It is clear that from the start he treated Trishna as a servant, and continues till the very end, but at final third of the story, without any reason, his tenderness suddenly vanishes. Is it Jai's imposed duties by his father that are making him so cold and abusive? Or is his inner sadistic and domineering darkness expressing itself fully? If so, there is little transition or explained cause.
Trishna's motive for her final blow is unclear as well. It is clear that Trishna was not taken forcibly by Jai. Unfairly? Yes. Whenever he reached to some end of the world to pick her up, he asked her and she agreed. Right up until a few minutes before she stabs him, she is wordlessly, politely, and passively serving him, reciprocating his kisses and does not seem to shrink from intercourse. Then, all together, she whispers her first few denials, shrinks from his touch, cries during intercourse/ rape, and just as immediately goes and stabs him. I was honestly expecting her to change her game and leave him; that was the only logical progression from her attitude and development. If it was a matter of money, she could have gone back to Mumbai and become a screen dancer, she even had an offer of employment there, and she loved to dance.
The only way this type of ending works if there is boldly expressed passion throughout the story. It is ambiguous (but naturally so) whether Jai's inconsolable lust is a part of his love (or some other feeling) for her. Trishna's constant yielding towards Jai, despite his unfairness and abusive neglect, also shows her love for him. But this love is never really projected in a way to justify Jai's murder. The master and servant relationship seems to have been agreed upon from the start, and its participants do not deviate from their expected behavior at any time. Therefore, when this relationship becomes thwarting and violating for Trishna, her reaction to it is confusing. She was being abused from the start with her own passive acceptance. Why the sudden fatally violent counter? Another highly inconsistent matter is the treatment of sex. There is no on-screen sex in almost the first half of the movie. Then, suddenly, a little while after they move together to Mumbai, the on-screen sex is non-stop. Near the end it is so repetitive that it can come across as gratuitous and tedious. Jai's insatiable lust makes him out to be disgusting and worthless, but still not worthy of death. Therefore, when it comes, it seems baseless.
All in all, it seems to me that the ending was chosen simply to fit the label of an adaptation. It basically ruins the movie. A far better ending (and movie) would have been for Trishna to break her servitude by leaving Jai, not by killing him.
To claim that TRISHNA is an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 'Tess of the
D'Urbervilles' is really stretching the imagination. This is an
engrossing film about caste differences in India: the screenwriters are
not mentioned - only the fact that director Michael Winterbottom based
his story on Hardy's famous novel seems to be more of a PR draw than
reality. But the film is well acted and the aromas and atmospheres of
India are well captured.
TRISHNA reveals the life of one woman whose life is destroyed by a combination of love and circumstances. Set in contemporary Rajasthan, Trishna (Freida Pinto, beautiful and sensitive) meets a wealthy young British businessman Jay Singh (Riz Ahmed, inordinately handsome and polished) 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 industrialization, urbanization 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: the sexual double standard to which Tess falls victim despite being a truly good woman makes her despised by society after losing her virginity before marriage. Trishna has choices after she receives an education, but she instead chooses to follow her passion for Jay. Jay truly loves Trishna but his social class demands that he keep Trishna as an employee, making his physical love affair with her a private matter due to the rules of the caste system. Jay does not seem to be a villain here and Trishna is not a victim: these two facts make the ending a bit over the top and unnecessary. A more intelligent script could have made this a first class film.
Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed are fascinating to observe as they work through the confines of love in a world that does not condone their union. The other characters in the cast are excellent - especially Roshan Seth as Jay's father. In setting the story in contemporary India the director seems to have decided it was important to include cellphones and Bollywood dancing rehearsals and filmmaking to provide spice. But in the end it is the fine acting by Pinto and Ahmed that make this film work.
Michael Winterbottom's contemporary update of 'Tess of the
D'Urbervilles' was something that I had been looking forward to seeing
for a long time. This is his third adaptation of a Thomas Hardy novel,
and by far his most audacious: taking a story set in 19th century
England and relocating it to modern day India, while retaining the
essence and nuance of the original story, was no easy feat.
Unfortunately, it shows. I knew from the beginning that this was not a movie to judge as a literary adaptation, and I refuse to do so. This should be judged on its merits as a film in its own right but even with this taken into consideration, there are major problems.
First, I would like to state that there are things to admire in this movie. Freida Pinto in the main role proves to the world (if there was any doubt after her performance in 'Slumdog Millionaire') what a talented actress she is. Combine with this with some truly beautiful cinematography and a story packed with emotional depth and powerful statements about modern Indian society, relationships and sexual politics and we should be on for a winner, surely!
Yet, despite Pinto's wonderful lead performance, her talents do not extend to some of her co-stars - most notably Riz Ahmed, who in an inspired but flawed directorial decision plays a character in whom Alec and Angel from the novel are combined. The result, although more successful than I originally thought it would be, still isn't entirely believable, especially in the film's final third by far the weakest section of the film.
There are other, more minor flaws: with the exception of some wonderful technical flourishes (including a brilliantly filmed murder scene at the end of the film, and some interesting decisions in the cinematography department in shooting a car crash nearer the start of the movie), the editing is sometimes very shoddy, which undercuts not only some of the most beautiful filmed scenes in the movie, but also creates frequent continuity errors.
However, by far the most disappointing thing about 'Trishna' is its script: it sounds all the way through like a first draft. The characters talk in tired clichés, and surprisingly, there are no interesting set pieces until very near the end of the movie, meaning that for most of its running time, the film is running on neutral, with very little passion or forward momentum driving the plot along. It stalls far too often, and although I don't know how many scenes were consigned to the cutting room floor before the film's release, I would argue whole-heartedly that there are still more that could be shed.
I'm sorry to say that 'Trishna', despite great potential, left me very disappointed. It is a flawed melodrama with no gusto or passion, which inevitably means that its overwrought ending feels horribly out of place. It isn't a complete disaster as I have said, there are positives, and it is certainly a brave and interesting effort, which I am sure many film buffs and lovers of literature will be itching to see: indeed, I would encourage them to see it (albeit with their expectations lowered). However, for me, Roman Polanski's 1979 film 'Tess' remains the definitive adaptation of the Hardy novel.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Michael Winterbottom's "Trishna" is the fourth theatrical adaptation of
Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel "Tess of the d'Urbervilles." The first two
adaptations, silent films released in 1913 and 1924 respectively, have
since been declared lost. The next adaptation, however, was well
preserved even before its American premiere in 1980. This would be
Roman Polanski's "Tess," a romantic melodrama that, like the novel, was
set in Victorian England. "Trishna," a modernized retelling that shifts
the setting to India, is very much like "Tess" in that it tells the
story of an innocent young woman whose life is ultimately destroyed by
love, societal values, unfortunate turns of events, and above all, male
dominance. It's tragic, but not unnecessarily so; we understand the
gravity of the situation, and we recognize that the conclusion is
Trishna (Freida Pinto) lives a meager existence with her large family in a village in Rajasthan. The eldest daughter, she helps pay the bills by working at a nearby resort as a greeter and cocktail server. It's during one of her night shifts that she meets a British businessman named Jay (Riz Ahmed), the son of an ailing but wealthy property developer (Roshan Seth). Jay has come to India at his father's request to manage a luxury resort in Jaipur. His initial meeting with Trishna was essentially only a casual encounter; it isn't until her father destroys his Jeep and hurts himself in an accident that their relationship becomes much more serious. That's when Jay offers Trishna the chance to work at his hotel for a relatively sizeable sum, enough to provide for her family. During her time as his employee, they fall in love, and in due time, they have sex.
In Polanski's film, Tess is raped and soon thereafter gives birth to a sickly baby that immediately dies. In Winterbottom's film, Trishna's inevitable pregnancy is terminated under duress from her father, who is, to put it mildly, old fashioned. In both films, the title characters have been saddled with the same secret, one that could forever ruin a potentially happy life with the men they love. Jay, a combination of the Alec Stokes-d'Urberville and Angel Clare characters from "Tess," is initially not made aware of Trishna's pregnancy or the resulting abortion, allowing for scenes that give Trishna hope for a better life. She and Jay eventually move to Mumbai, where both dabble in the Bollywood scene, Trishna in front of the camera and Jay behind. The cracks eventually begin to show on their seemingly solid relationship, most interestingly when they tour their new apartment and Jay shows Trishna the kitchen.
Although Jay seems to be in love with Trishna, he will in due time make the most astounding of transformations, namely from a charming young man into a controlling monster. Ideally, Trishna would have been able to approach him with news of her pregnancy. Realistically, she's part of a culture where having a child out of wedlock is considered disgraceful, not just for the woman but for her family as well. This is despite the fact that there have been advancements in economic growth, mobility, and education, both in urban and rural areas. With this in mind, exactly how could Trishna confess to Jay? You'd think he'd be more progressive, considering his British upbringing, but the truth is that he's essentially a spoiled brat who flaunts his status as a fiancée would her ring.
The other side of the issue is Trishna's father, a man so traditional that not even the good money she earns can persuade him to look past her sin which, incidentally, may not have been a sin at all but rather an act that was forced upon her. So now it comes down to an issue we tend to dance around, especially in circumstances like this: Was it consensual, or was it rape? It may not be as clear cut as it seems; Jay's initial act of kindness, coupled with his handsome looks and alluring demeanor, effectively reduced the naïve and impressionable Trishna into a state of total submission, which is to say that she probably would have jumped off a cliff if he asked her to do so. It was more mental than physical, I believe. He took advantage of a situation by seducing her. Regardless, her resulting pregnancy made her damaged goods in the eyes of her father.
This, combined with Jay's drastic personality shift, paves the way for a deeply unpleasant yet highly appropriate ending. Unlike "Tess," in which the possibility of a happy turnaround carried through to the final shot, "Trishna" makes it abundantly clear that no such possibility exists. The title character is nothing more or less than a hapless victim of circumstance. If my description of this movie has made it sound like an overwrought soap opera, you should know that I don't believe the plot was intended to be the main focus. It's really more about character development, specifically in relation to culture, and theme. We see that Trishna is in distress, and we feel her pain, and within the context of the story, we understand the reasons behind every decision she makes.
-- Chris Pandolfi (www.atatheaternearyou.net)
I am indebted to Sarya-Jayothsna who's review of Trishna certainly
helped me to identify with the movie. Having only been to New Delhi and
never experiencing rural India I had little idea at to what might be
considered "normal" in such an environment.
I have always admired the sultry beauty of Indian women and Freida Pinto (as Trishna) added a much deeper aspect to my admiration. The total subservience that she displayed when working at her first job in the Jaipur hotel was delightful - every male was addressed so beautifully demurely as "Sir" with the typical Indian hand gesture of obeisance. The skill with which her manners were conducted was, far from being demeaning, an absolute pleasure to the extent it made me want to reciprocate (had I been there, of course). Far from placing Trishna into a position of being "used," I felt that it inspired a desire to treat her with the same respect that she gave to others. I guess, as a man, I would interpret that as making me want to love her - and that has nothing to do with sex - it made me want to cherish her and let her know just how much value she had as a person. So the way Jay (Riz Ahmed) simply used her as a pleasure toy incensed me. How could anyone be so insensitive not to realise how his treatment hurt?
As a simple, sincere village girl, Trishna had never loved anyone in an intimate way in her life and so, when a handsome young man shows an interest in her, it literally sweeps her off her feet and, sadly, there is no one to pick her up. She fell in love and he fell in lust! If ever a movie had evoked a strong desire to lovingly comfort the leading character, Trishna does that.
I suppose, because the story is an adaptation of an English classic, the ending was inevitable but I really wish it hadn't been. I was left feeling empty and useless. What a waste!
Take a classic Thomas Hardy novel and replace the setting (Victorian
England) by modern India, a society that still has some of the
characteristics needed to make this story believable. That's what
Michael Winterbottom has done and it works wonderfully well.
Where else than in India can a poor, submissive girl who has never learned to speak up for herself, have a relationship with a rich guy who is used to getting everything he wants? Of course, the love affair is doomed because of the strict social rules that are still prevalent in India. We know from the beginning there will be tragic developments because this is a remake of Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
Winterbottom shows us very clear that the two would-be lovers have nothing in common. For him, she is purely an object of desire, a pretty face he can show off to his friends in Mumbai and have fun with between the sheets. For her, he is an escape route from poverty, an entrance ticket to the world of the jet set and possibly to a career in Bollywood.
Freida Pinto, of Slumdog Millionaire fame, is quite believable as the working class girl who is only used to obeying orders. For her, there is not much difference between saying yes to her father who asks her to fetch a glass of water, and saying yes to her lover when he asks her to move to Mumbai with him and become his live-in girlfriend. There is not much spirit in her role, and that makes you wonder if her passivity is the result of her acting talent, or, on the contrary, if it shows her lack of talent. Anyway, she plays the role exactly the way it should be.
The film doesn't paint a pretty picture of India. It's all there: the rural poverty, the girls who can't go to school because there is no money, the horrible traffic accidents, the inequality between the rich and the poor.
The only thing I didn't like about this film are the many scenes of successive nice-looking images, underscored by romantic music. In many of these scenes Pinto is featured very prominently, which is understandable because she is extremely beautiful. But it gets tedious after a while. I also lost count of the number of scenes where we see her carrying a tray to customers of the hotel she works in. These scenes make the story unnecessary slow and unbalanced.
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