Film, Drama
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Riz Ahmed and Freida Pinto in Trishna

That restless traveller Michael Winterbottom transports ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ to modern day India in his third adaptation of a Thomas Hardy novel. And like a Hardy character, ‘Trishna’ is compelling but flawed – perhaps fatally so, because all the emotion-crushing fierceness of the novel has been almost entirely lost en route  to Rajasthan. Freida Pinto (‘Slumdog Millionaire’) plays ill-fated country girl Trishna/Tess, but the real star is Londoner Riz Ahmed, who gives a terrific performance as her seducer Jay, the British-Indian son of a property tycoon.

Winterbottom’s plan to direct ‘Tess’ as ‘Trishna’ predates the British film fad for ‘doing’ India – and in theory it works. In today’s India it’s plausible that Trishna, like Tess, suffers because she’s a woman and she’s poor. She catches Jay’s eye in a temple. British-born, he’s on holiday with his university mates and offers her a job in his dad’s hotel. For her, he’s prince charming from a Bollywood romance. For him? Well, there’s the novelty factor of pulling a village girl. Ahmed’s brilliance is his ambiguity: Jay loves Trishna but can’t get past the gulf in class.

The problem here is Pinto, who has struggled since ‘Slumdog…’ and never fully comes alive as Trishna. Saying that, the film sails along on a gorgeous score by Shigeru Umebayashi and Bollywood composer Amit Trivedi. Oddly enough, more moving than the violent tragedy playing out on screen in the lovers’ deadly final meeting are the achingly plaintive lines of the song (by Trivedi) that accompany it: ‘My love, you showed me how the world really is… you turned day into night.’ Now that really does make the heart beat more quickly.

By: Cath Clarke


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday March 9 2012
Duration: 114 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Freida Pinto
Riz Ahmed
Roshan Seth

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

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It does drag for the first 30 minutes but it's a very convincing and colourful transliteration of Hardy's original and the denouement is very powerful. Of course Freida Pinto's stunning beauty suspends critical judgement a lot of the time....

Winterbottom is one of my favourite directors and after the magnificent "Cock and Bull Story" and BBC2's "The Trip" l was anticipating another inspired gem..What a let down this film is...It is underacted and flat and the dialogue is clunky. The whole film is a series of one minute scenes,no characterisation, no depth, just a glut of horrible music .Winterbottom captures the vibrancy of Indian life really well,showing us the vivid primary colours of it's landscape. It just does not work on any level.It is tedious and l was very disappointed indeed

If you can't face SlumDad Millionaire at The Marigold then this is the film for you, bringing the colours and sights of India without the upset tummy. Certainly Riz Ahmed impresses playing the changing darkening character of Jay and whilst Pinto is eye candy she doesn't really communicate to the audience. Tighter editing and more focus on some of the key scenes would have made this more intimate but still an entertaining film if you like a travelogue to Rajasthan, Mumbai and Jaipur with candid and sympathetic filming of the streets and people.