Review: Trishna


Director:Michael Winterbottom

Cast:Frieda Pinto, Riz Ahmed

Running Time:117 Minutes


Another year, another blunt and overly graphic Michael
Winterbottom film, and this one doesn't even have the decency to end with the
surreal, fourth-wall breaking catharsis of The
Killer Inside Me.  It's hard to
call Trishna bad, though, as it's far
too sincere in its grotesque weirdness to not, at the very least, respect.

A very loose adaptation of Thomas
Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Frieda
Pinto plays her own modern, rural Indian Tess, or rather, the eponymous
Trishna.  Whisked off to the city
by admirer Jay (Riz Ahmed) to work at his family's hotel, Trishna experiences a
life of culture, wealth, class, and sexual temptation at first shameful, then
later fulfilling, then even later, degrading and horrific.

Winterbottom vaguely follows the beats of Hardy's novel, but
seems to be on his own personal quest to examine the sociopathic nature of the
upper class"”or something.  The film
abruptly shifts gears from love story to tragedy to unwatchable torture porn and
never even thinks of bothering to give poor Trishna the slightest bit of
emotion.  Maybe that's the point,
as the film thinks of its characters less as human beings than archetypes to
explore themes.  What those themes
are is a question worth asking as the film ends with a volley of increasingly
grotesque images.  Is it about the
evils of men, or the exploitation of the working class, or is it maybe even a self-reflexive
comment on the recent trend of stereotyping the whole of India (see Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, etc.)?  On that last point, Winterbottom
deserves points for shooting a balanced portrait of India's rural and urban centers
with dignity.  It's a dignity that
he doesn't reserve for poor Trishna, sadly.


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