- Director:Michael Winterbottom
- Cast:Riz Ahmed, Kalki Koechlin, Freida Pinto, Roshan Seth
- Release Date:May 10, 2012
- Running time:117 minutes
- Film Worth:$16.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
A deft reworking of a literature classic, this finely performed drama smartly retains its critique of class and status.
No director surprises today like Michael Winterbottom, who bounces from genre to genre at will, and turns out films at a breakneck pace, seemingly impervious to market conditions or shifting cinematic trends. He does what he wants to do - from moving dramas (A Mighty Heart, Genova) and stately period films (Jude, The Claim) to confrontational provocation pieces (9 Songs, The Killer Inside Me) and documentary-style realism (In This World, The Road To Guantanamo) - and has succeeded in carving out his own niche, delivering at least a film a year, while bigger names struggle to keep up. True to form, his latest effort is another left turn, with Winterbottom taking Thomas Hardy's classic 1891 English novel, Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, and transplanting it to contemporary India. With deft skill and economic storytelling, he quickly proves that classic literature can be truly timeless.
When Jay (a fine Riz Ahmed), the young British scion of a hotel empire, comes to India for business and a little pleasure too, his eye is instantly caught by beautiful but poor-born dancer, Trishna (Freida Pinto in a wonderfully textured and ultimately heart-breaking performance). The two soon embark on a heated, passionate romance, but their class differences eventually intrude on their initially tender exchanges, with Jay tilting their relationship into a strange series of power plays, which will ultimately lead to tragedy.
In reshaping Hardy's sprawling novel, Winterbottom makes a few unusual choices (principally in making Jay a composite of the book's wildly divergent romantic figures, Alec and Angel), but retains its essence, cogently stoking up its critique of the class system and piousness in general. The director's heady depiction of the hustle and bustle of modern India (surely not coincidentally, one of the most class divided nations in the world), meanwhile, provides a vivid and dynamic backdrop for this earthy, provocative tale.