Designed with a black pen, imagined by a penetrated gaze, brought to life by human sensitivity. Splendid.
PS. The song is “Exogenesis: Symphony, Part 3 (Redemption)” by Muse.
A few weeks ago, a trailer for the animated movie “Arjun: the Warrior Prince” was released. Even though the tagline calls it “the untold story of India’s greatest warrior”, it is, in fact the story of a central character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. It marks the first release of an animated movie after the acquisition of UTV by Walt Disney Pictures. The movie seems particularly intriguing, as it brings back the epic feeling of Disney’s late 90s films, even though it seems that the combination of 3D and 2D animation is at times quite problematic. However, if one sees past the flaws in animation and some clichés in the narration, the movie does hold the promise of a visually interesting large scale spectacle.
Disney’s interest in the country is neither brand new, not unexpected: in 2008 it collaborated with Yash Raj Films for the production of “Roadside Romeo”. Like many other media companies, Disney has seen the potentials in the developing country and has been investing there for the past fifteen years. Currently advanced discussions also take place for the creation of an Indian Disneyland. Such ambitions and investments are supported not only by the growing GDP of the country, but also by the increased domestic consumerism and the nation’s fascination with media. It is a huge market that consumes huge amounts of movies and other media per year. It has a strong domestic production, with media products routinely exported to other parts of Asia, as well as Western countries with strong South-Asian communities. However, what India lacks is a long tradition of animated movies production. For quite a long time it has remained a consumer of imported animation products, as animation is a much more tedious process that requires the mind-blowing combination of huge amounts of money, highly specialised and talented professionals, experience, time and patience. When a live-action movie can go through all the stages of production within a year (pre-production, production, post-production, marketing and release), an animated movie requires a few years and a lot of love and attention to detail to reach, at least, respectable standards. Therefore, it is an investment of much higher risk.
However, it is not all that bleak. Animated movies are also a product with fantastic potentials for long-term revenue due to DVD rentals/sales, streaming, downloads, theatrical and television reruns and the licence agreements abroad. The ca also be affiliated to a plethora of merchandise, from toy figures to bed sheets. It has the potentials to create a universe of characters that can be marketed and sold, re-branded or evolve separately from the original product. Also, as it depends on the re-imagination of the world and the creation of a separate universe that can be inhabited by creatures of all shades, forms or shapes, it is a product that transcends cultural differences more easily than live-action movies. Therefore, it can cross into the Western mainstream more easily than other “ethnic” movies. However, there is a catch to these fantastic opportunities: the movie – or series – needs to be good enough to capture the imagination of the children.
The combination of certain elements is essential for the success of an animated movie. First and foremost, the production studio needs to set high quality standards for the final product. This can be a very expensive decision which will involve a lot of risk, especially in a country that is still experimenting with the production of animation. The studio needs to have enough faith in animation as an art form to be willing to invest long term or find patient investors who understand the difficulty of the endeavour. Take Pixar as an example: for a very long time it was a tremendously costly investment that seemed like it would never ever bring any revenue. It was the faith of investors such as Steve Jobs that kept the company afloat and allowed it to produce and release the ground-breaking and commercially successful first “Toy Story” movie.
However, domestically produced animation will certainly not bring the level of novelty “Toy Story” brought upon release. Animated movies (2D and 3D) of international standards have been released in India in the past. Producers can count on the desire of the people to see something that reflects their culture, but at the same time, if they solely bet on it, they will miss the bigger picture. Something should not be “good enough for India”. It should be just good, especially in terms of animation quality and storytelling (which, unfortunately, has been traditionally the weak point of Bollywood movies). For all their advantages, animated movies/series face fierce competition in a global scale, with the two major players being the US and Japan. Their products have penetrated and dominated foreign markets for a very long time. So, even if the content produced is oriented for domestic consumption, it still needs to compete with the international releases that are also released domestically. In other words, in a globalised world the better product will win and cultural references can only offer a relative advantage, especially when the audience consists of little people who still decipher their culture and can easily blend Tom and Jerry into their intimate sphere of experience. This is where the involvement of foreign companies with long tradition in animation, such as Disney, can bring a tremendous advantage, due to the possibility of injecting local productions with foreign know-how.
The problem with creating a product for an audience that is not well-established (or has been driven away by previous aesthetic and commercial failures) is that the producers need to make conscious efforts to identify the elements that drove previous domestic productions to fail and the elements that assisted local and foreign productions to succeed.
It is a long and difficult path, but that doesn’t mean that it is all in vain. If one looks once again at the story of Pixar, it will become obvious that brave visionaries will fail multiple times, but if they have dreams, knowledge and skills they will eventually succeed. The success of animation in India won’t be just a romantic story of how a different narrative form infiltrated a seemingly hostile and rocky territory. It will be a victory for animation worldwide, as a strong Indian animation Industry that doesn’t just do work for foreign companies, but uses its talents for the production of original material will eventually form its own schools, aesthetics and narrative forms. It will enrich and renew the animation industry, while offering refreshing products to an audience that can easily become hardcore fans and ascribe “cult” status to movies/series. It may also turn into the Trojan horse that the Indian film industry has been looking for in hopes of infiltrating the Western market.
But first thing first: India is a country with great heritage, an ambulance of interesting stories and a colourful present that can be used as the backdrop for compelling, contemporary narrations (in fact, even the ugly can be beautifully incorporated into a film, as the use of favelas in the movie Rio proves). Indian animation is already a very promising business with significant revenues. However, it needs long-term investments, talents with excellent education and broaden horizons and time to grow and develop its own distinctive identity. Otherwise, it will weather as fast at it will grow.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is an excellent movie, because it serves a core purpose of cinema: it entertains and moves the audience. There are plenty of flaws and as many plot holes and weaknesses as the old hotel itself, however there is a heart to be found in this well-acted and tender story.
The plot revolves around the adventures of seven British retirees who move to India to live in a hotel for the “Elderly and Beautiful”, run by Sonny, a young Indian whose dream is to “outsource old age”. These premises – which intelligently imply the lack of support both in an emotional and an economic level towards older people in western countries – allow for the development of a series of personal stories that are both charming and moving.
Even though the prominent role of older people may suggest a concentration on topics of life and death, the movie explores issues of sexuality, social positioning, dreams, aspirations, racism, abandonment and self-awareness. Of course, the most prominent selling point of the movie is the actors involved: Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup. They all give a different quality to the movie and turn it from an old-age rom-com to a portrayal of life after retirement.
On the other hand, the majority of Indian characters are quite stereotypical: the happy-go-lucky Indian boy who has a big plan and a beautiful girlfriend (Dev Patel), the girlfriend who works in a call centre and has an authoritative brother and the boy’s mother-monster with tender heart who tries to impose her will on her son (a stereotype which makes all Indian mothers seem more frightening than Tasso Kavadia). Nevertheless, it includes something rarely seen in Western movies, sexual relations between native youth involved in a romantic relationship.
(SPOILER ALERT) There is, also, a prominent exception in the stereotypical representation of the Indians, which works very well within a movie that consciously tries to normalize situations that otherwise would have been treated as extraordinary. Graham’s (Tom Wilkinson) storyline presented him as a retired judge who wants to go back to make amends with his past. When he was very young, he had an affair with an Indian boy. The relationship ended after they got caught sleeping together. He was sent abroad and was always afraid that this event would have destroyed his lover’s life. However, when they meet, the man tells him that he had a good life. His wife is also aware of the incident. Afterwards, the wife not only allows her husband to assist in the Hindu funeral of Graham, but she also accompanies him and supports him. The reaction of these characters challenges many persisting perceptions regarding non-Westerns that are constantly repeated in movies (most recently in “Eat, Pray, Love”). There is traditionally a connection between education, dignity and insightfulness which, as proven by the reactions of the man’s wife, is erroneous and just reflects western self-importance. (END OF SPOILER)
The other actor in the film, India itself, is beautiful as always, even though it serves as the stereotypical foreign paradise: poorer, dirtier, with “innocent and good-hearted” people, strange smells and beautiful sunsets. It is also the other selling point of the film, a promise of exoticism to an audience thirsty for a cost-free escape from the gray of the big Western metropolis. It also reproduces another stereotypical functioning of India in movies, that of an educator that offers Hinduism, temples and a different outlook to life. The heroes go there and learn more about themselves and the world (the other stereotypical functioning of India which was wisely avoided was that of the receiver of Western charity). It does, however, go further and shows the interior of companies, the new buildings next to the old, the desire to grow and develop, which, in its own way, is a positive element.
Despite these weaknesses though, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a genuinely beautiful, funny and heart-warming film. The dialogues are witty and at times hilarious, the acting is spot-on and the situations depicted are presented as natural, everyday events. Thomas Newman’s music also adds vivid colours to the scenes. It is a movie that is truly worth watching. It is also an opportunity to see how older people see themselves as complex human beings with needs and desire, a viewpoint that they beg for the rest of the society to adopt and abandon the old notion of older people as positioned one step away from their deathbed. As a lady told me after the end of a screening: “they should produce more movies like this about us the grey-haired”.
The Hunger Games is a story of strength and survival and its cinematic adaptation is an exercise of style and substance over blockbuster/movie franchise requirements.
The story revolves around the tragic fate of a young woman in a dystopian future, where children 12 to 18 year old from twelve districts are forced by the Capitol (the city holding the central political authority) to fight each other to death as a punishment for their districts’ past rebellion. The movie is an adaptation of the eponymous first novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins. The announcement of the adaptation of the books into films caused a great discussion among fans due to their general concept, violence. The central question was how to produce a film aiming towards younger audiences and market it to the children and their parents, when the central topic is authoritative sardonic cruelty and the desensitization to violence caused by the media?
The studio apparently had two choices: the easy way, where romance would be over-emphasised to the expense of more substantial themes, or the hard way, which would make the publication and marketing process much harder. Wisely, they chose to safeguard the artistic integrity of the project, while drawing a great variety of talents to assist in the movie’s development, from Gary Ross, director of Pleasantville, to Jennifer Lawrence, an actress who at 21 has already been nominated for an Oscar, to Suzanne Collins herself, who contributed to the screenplay. Steven Soderbergh’s small, but sweet contribution as Second Unit Director was also a winking to cinephiles.
Fortunately, all this talent succeeded in producing an artistically pleasing and though provocative film that engaged both the younger and the older audience. Stylistically, the cinematography and costumes (especially the Peacekeepers’ gear) bring to mind 70s futuristic films. The story unravels without spending too much time in explaining situation, but rather allowing the audience to pick up information through the visual representation of events. This, of course, may be challenging in its own right, given the fact that in the majority of blockbusters situations and relations are explicitly explained through dialogues, with the information often being repeated throughout the film. At times it felt like knowing the book was important in order to appreciate the qualities of the movie, without trying to figure out certain details regarding the behaviour or the attitude of the characters. Some characters were never also officially introduced, or their role was never explained, such as Effie Trinket and Portia (Peeta’s stylist). This was, indeed, one of the complains I heard from two separate moviegoers, who were trying to find out why the Games were taking place in the first place.
The Huger Games also stands out as a film due to the central female character. After years of watching Bella Swan, the docile Mary Sue from Twilight taking over teenagers’ walls and fantasies, Katniss Everdeen is a refreshing change. She is a fighter and a caretaker. She is the male figure in her household. Her masculinity, in combination with her female traits, mostly expressed through her motherly love towards her sister and her attraction to her male companions, present her as a character that surpasses gender stereotypes and becomes relevant to both the male and female audience, without relying on nudity or emotional fragility. She is a role model, not a shapeless container for female day-dreaming. On the other hand, the love triangle between her, Peeta and Gale has been largely underplayed in the movie. Peeta is less persistent and his protective feelings towards her are expressed through actions, rather than words. Gale has officially taken over the role of the caretaker of her family, which is another strong way of showcasing his dedication to her.
The Hunger Games is not for the faint-hearted. It is at times so violent (even implicitly) that one should wonder how the studio managed to secure a PG-13 rating in the USA and a 12A in the UK. It should actually urge the movie industry professionals to discussion the possibility of providing a classification that would include tweens (9-12), but would exclude all younger audience. The maturity and needs of children, indeed, has significantly changed of the decades, as “childhood” is by no means a historically steady and homogeneous developmental stage. That said, it is by no means as violent, tense or aesthetically invasive as Battle Royal or Lord of the Flies. It is, nevertheless, a good start to a trilogy that was the smart marketing campaign and trailers that presented the film cohesively, without giving too much away (something that even big studios with long history have failed to do in the recent past). The Hunger Games is, by all means, a tremendous success for everyone involved and will hopefully pave the way for more challenging heroines and storylines in the near future.
[There are many *SPOILERS* in the text. So please don’t read the article if you haven’t seen Steve McQueen’s Shame and you don’t want my opinion to interfere with your movie experience]
It is always interesting to see how directors treat issues of addiction. The usual route is to start by presenting the effects of addiction on the person. Then something happens and the carefully constructed façade of the character breaks into million pieces. Exposed to her family and/or other social groups (colleagues, friends, students etc.) she is forced to face reality, accept the consequences and go for treatment.
Shame is different in many ways. The protagonist spends his time trying not only to cover up his addiction (for example, when his office computer is found full pornography), but also to push people away. Not that there are many people who want to get close to him. His sister for once is trying to penetrate his personal world and make him realise that he is not leading a healthy life. However, she is as troubled as he, which makes the audience question if there has been an event in their childhood that was deeply disturbing and traumatic.
Interestingly, the only adult in the movie who has seemingly managed to develop strong coping mechanisms is the woman the protagonist goes out on a date with. Despite her recent divorce, she is interested in re-building her personal life and move forward. Even more interestingly, she is an African-American woman, a choice that goes against stereotypes such as the black angry woman or the welfare queen. It is slightly embarrassing to acknowledge that such a choice, together with the interracial element, are progressive, given the fact that this is 2011 and not 1911 (on the other hand, let’s not forget Frida Pinto’s admission that she had to fight to be given a role in Tarsem Sigh’s Immortals, as he didn’t want to cast an Indian actress).
Shame shows both the disturbance that his sister brings to his life, while avoiding any type of catharsis that could also be a short of a “happy ending”. It is hard and cruel and torturing. But like in many cases of addiction, there is no (easy) way out. This is what Steve McQueen keeps pointing out during the whole movie: this man’s life is constructed in such a way that any change can lead to a complete meltdown. It is a matter of social networks: his work, his family. All these elements are controlling his life and coping mechanisms. On the other hand, he can hardly engage in meaningful discussions or connect with people while sober. He is highly successful, but also very restrained. He goes out, gets drunk, has sex, and then the day starts all over again. It is as much a presentation of a vicious cycle of addiction as it is a comment on the affluent yuppies and their (unhealthy) lifestyle.
The protagonists, Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are simply amazing. Whole-heartily committed to their roles, they allow the audience to understand their characters through their actions, decisions and facial expressions. It is truly a pity that they didn’t receive the recognition they deserved by the Academy.
The only issue is maybe the excessive amount of sex scenes, but not for the reason you may think. Seeing a man like Fassbender engage in sex acts can be both a treat and a distraction. They do offer a more realistic experience, while it is implicitly stated that his good looks contributed to his problems (as he could find women more easily). However, it is also pointed out that the protagonist often pays for sex due to his great need and incapacity to connect meaningfully with people. It feels like the director is actively seeking to objectify the protagonist, hence motivating the audience to gain visual pleasure by watching the sexual content. At the end, though, the viewers are left so disgusted that the spectacle becomes grotesque and feels them with guilt for the feelings they previously developed. The movie posses a provocative question: is a handsome sex addict less worthy of sympathy that an ugly one?
My discomfort with the sex scenes is also related to the abundance of magazine covers where they presented the actor as the new leading man, emphasising his sexuality in half-naked steamy photos. This confusing marketing (see: the marketing people acted like they were promoting an India Jones movie) not only could possibly lead the audience to the wrong conclusions about the content of the movie, but may also interfere with their cinematic experience. The bottom line is, this is not a soft-core movie that glorifies sexy rich dudes. It is an artistic film that aims at exploring the torment that sex addicts experience. The sensitivity of this topic, together with the connotations involved in the representation of sex, should have received a more sophisticated marketing approach.
To sump up, Shame is an excellent movie. It treats its topic in a sensitive, yet progressive way and it shows you the pain and agony involved. The fact that there is a parsimony in background information on the characters only enhance the effectiveness of the film. It hints that this is an issue that could be faced by people in similar circumstances and their background story may or may not matter. Even if it does, it is their current struggles that should be addressed. And it is the situation that they have been caught it that brings them shame.
A book is a paper.
A computer is an aluminium.
A coin is a nickel.
A car is a steel.
A building is a cement.
A drink is a liquid.
A drug is an illusion.
Love is fulfilment.
And thy heart shall not be commanded by bolts and reels.
As it can be assumed from my previous posts, I am one of those people who have a love-hate relationship with popular fiction. So, when The Hunger Games became hot property, I flinched at the idea that a book whose synopsis was dangerously similar to my beloved Battle Royal and included yet another love triangle would hunt my nightmares for the next few years.
Then I read the books. I didn’t follow the orthodox sequence of the trilogy. Book three was picked up from my local Waterstones in May. A few months had to pass before books one and two came into my possession.
Setting up the scenery of a dystopian future is a challenging task. It needs to feel plausible and familiar, yet distant and intriguing. In The Hunger Games many elements are easily recognisable but used in extreme and fundamentally different situations.
A prominent topic of the books is the role of media in a fascist nation. Every figure of authority is actively seeking their manipulation aiming at the control and intimidation of the population. The Hunger Games as an institution is a televised declaration of the power that the centre, the Capitol, exercises over its districts. The control of telecommunications, from telephones to televisions is essential for the control of the people. Similar topics have been previously explored by a great range of books and films. However, the attention to detail that Collins puts to her description and her intelligent usage of these elements, assisting them to become a central topic of discussion in the books, makes it particularly interesting.
Katniss is in many ways the anti-Bella. She has masculine traits: she can hunt and kill. She serves as Peeta’s protector during the games. She is also Gale’s equal, whenever Gale is the true masculine figure of the series. Throughout the books she tries to find her loyalties, she explores and develops her own political views and comes of age in a time of turmoil. Her fake love and engagement to Peeta for the delight of the viewers seems like a mockery of tabloid love affairs. This is a woman whose feelings remain private and whenever expressed, they consist of short and honest statements. Furthermore, the author doesn’t mind causing unbearable pain to the heroine. She lets her fall, break and get wounded beyond repair. Katniss is a scared woman hunted by nightmares and will remain so forever. She is also an intelligent, political being, a trait that is missing from many other female popular fiction characters.
Another character that stands out is Cinna. The fashion designer and Katniss’s stylist is a silent force, a genius with the capacity to channel his feelings into his work. His natural look comes in starkly contrast with the plastic and colourful people around him. Soft-spoken, yet strong, he is manly without being intimidating. If he was an actual person, you would be a soft-spoken protector with slight self-distracting tenderness, but a radiating inner beauty.
Such male characters can be a significant draw to older female readers. A fresh-out-of-middle-school boy is way too young, inexperienced and naive to function as an imaginative lover. It feels wrong to allow oneself to be intimate with the character and grow fond of him. However, a more experienced man can appeal both to young audience (who may find him a bit “old” but “cute”) and to older women who can locate adult issues in his behaviour. Same thing could be said about characters such as Sirius Black from the Harry Potter series who often functioned as the pathway between the childish material and the social and political topics that J.K.Rowling wanted to introduce. He is also described as a man of a few words, a great insight into other people’s feeling and a capacity to communicate tenderness without using words or excessive body contact. In other words, he contains archetypical characteristics of the perfect, mysterious lover that so many females secretly lust over.
So, Lenny Kravitz’s casting was spot on.
Some people may remember Lenny as a hot, yet cocky guy singing about American women and staring half-naked in steamy video clips. Far less have seen him wonderfully portraying the tender nurse John in Precious, the role that actually landed him the Hunger Games gig – and rightfully so.
The posters released a few weeks ago raise the expectations for the movies due to their simple, yet to-the-point approach. The major characters are given side shots. They all turned to their right, except for Katniss who is established as the protagonist by being the only one turning to her left.
Cinna’s poster is also beautifully shot. The model is handsome, the role is excellent.
With Gary Ross on the director’s chair and promising promotional material so far, it looks like they can do no wrong.
I’m not Team Edwards. I’m not Team Jacob. I’m Team Blade, the vampire hunter.
The truth is I have read the Twilight Saga. All four books. Every time I would finish one, I would rush to get my hands on the next one to explore how far with this stupidity can an author go. Book one was – almost – cute. Book two was emo. Book three had no reason to exist. But book four was the epitome of poorly written literature. It was what one could call “craptastic” thanks to the abysmal dialogues, the storyline that by no means could be considered a stylistically natural continuation of the previous book and the lack of consequences for everybody involved. I will not even start to discuss the excruciating bordom that would flow through my vains like prozac.
Whereas the first three books occasionally highlight the drawbacks of being a really, really, ridiculously good-looking sparkling vampire, the pretentious moral lesson is dropped in the fourth book. Our dear seemingly indifferent Mary Sue who, you know by the fact that she loooves her Withering Heights, hides inside those greasy T-shirts a sweet little Pollyanna. She marries the boy, looses her innocence on their honeymoon, has the baby, becomes a vampire and lives happily ever ever after drinking animal blood (truth be told though, the groom also becomes a man that night. Gender equality at its finest). Well, our little princess has it all: looks, a guy, immortality and a child, that, as it can be assumed, is essential for a woman to become complete. Even better: we already have a husband for that child, non other than Mr. Jacob himself. What a joy for a mother to know that her little bubble of joy will end up with a man that she has tried and approved!
The problem is that this wonderful fairytale, apart from being a really, really, ridiculously… ehm… ridiculous story also diminishes the actual point of the myth of the vampire: a vampire is a human that joins forces with the Devil to gain immortality. In the process though he looses his soul. He looses his freedom, as he cannot walk around this earth during the day. He stands aside as the people he loves die from old age or he is forced to walk away from them to conceal his true nature from the fearful human eyes. He is undead, but truly dead at heart: he lives among murders who depend on human blood to survive. Paradise has become forbidden territory and happiness depends solely on carnal pleasures. The vampire represents human fears and weaknesses at its finest. It represents the fear of loosing yourself, of loosing love, of loosing what could be described as the essence of human existence. It is also a realisation that every gift has a price that you will eventually pay. In our sinful, impoverished world nothing comes for free. Not youth, beauty or even food.
Wonderful Mrs. Swan can be as awkwardly perfect as she desires. Her faux-feminism of her character and the picture-perfect settings cannot hide the fact that she is the reincarnation of everything traditional society expected of women: early marriage, no degree, a good, handsome, rich husband, a child and evergreen good looks. This unemployed graduate will keep her degrees and wait for a man that will appreciate her for her brain and sense of humour, not for the taste of her blood.
I went on Tuesday to see Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna at the London Film Festival. I had read one or two reviews but, as it was a movie about a country I’m particularly curious about and was directed by a man that I kind of adore, I decided to keep my fingers of the keyboard and practice p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e (not easy to do for a restless beast like me).
The movie presents the tragic love story between a young, wealthy British-Indian man, Jay (Riz Ahmed) and a beautiful, yet poor Indian woman, Trishna (Freida Pinto). Their love blossoms when they leave countryside for Mumbai, where they can live as a couple. Yet life circumstances and their own actions drive them apart.
It was beautiful. I get that many people are afraid that Western directors (or “Hollywood directors” as they are often inaccurately described) will misrepresent countries that due to their history of poverty have received limited – and usually – negative coverage by the media in developed countries. They are afraid of the representation of the “brown” (“yellow” etc.) man (or woman) as uneducated, stupid, simple, poor, miserable and goofy due to his (or her) lack of understanding of the western ways of life.
First thing first, despite coming from a European country with an ancient civilisation, as the textbooks keep reminding us, I never considered the ‘brown’ man as a lesser human being. We do have as a nation our stereotypes, I must admit, but I have been struggling my whole life to see the person behind the mask of the identity. I see people of different background not as curious exotic birds but as opportunities to exchange views and expand my understanding of the world. So, my point is that I watched the film with a sound (though limited) knowledge of India and with the expectation to see the life of actual people who happen to be living in a certain geographical area.
And this was exactly what I got. Trishna, based on Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a beautiful movie that explores without loosing time in useless dialogue the two Indias: the India of Mumbai and the India of Rajasthan, the India that you can be and act as you please, be part of the change that capitalism and Westernisation brought and the India where you sleep with your younger siblings in the same bed and work in the fields. Both Indias exist and they are both given equal time to be explored by the hungry eye of the viewer. The monkeys hanging from the power lines, the open air nightclubs, the tea factory, the Western actress working in Bollywood, the Hindu wedding. Freida Pinto’s was “family” was an actual family living in the area. His love for naturalism had led the director to ask people to allow him to incorporate their reality into the film.
The storytelling is compelling and the acting is quite good. Riz Ahmed is handsome and manages to provide to his character a convincing transformation from lover to abuser. Such characters are always harder to portray: we as so used to seeing abusers as two- headed monsters whose goal in life is to degrade and maltreat women. His portrayal, on the other hand, made me genuinely interested on the character and generated in me feelings of sympathy. He was a complex human being whose life was practically ruined by circumstances. I by no means support abuse towards women. However, I strongly believe that a relationship has two parties and the motives of both people should be explored, something that is often overlooked by many cinematographers and actors. They portrait their characters as a sadistic creature and that’s the beginning and the end of the character study. Freida Pinto is stunning, dark skin and everything. Her acting, though not perfect, is simple and for the most part does the trick.
My main issue with the movie, nevertheless, was how unprepared I felt when the ending came. Trishna’s actions felt too rushed, too irrational, too violent. Of course, when I thought about it later on and retraced step-by-step the climax, I could justify such a turn of events. Maybe it’s me. Having been raised to think that women and men are equals and a person should do what she pleases with her life, I couldn’t truly related to the emotional battle that she was experiencing. Or maybe that was the Achilles’ knee of the narrative economy. Maybe that was the moment that the audience needed a few more worlds.
So yes, I enjoyed it a lot and I was quite pleased to see so many Indian talents contributing to the creative process. Like Amit Trivedi and his beautiful song that first made me fall in love with the trailer and watch it again and again.