Friday, August 17, 2012

Trishna (Rhoades)

“Trishna” Is Merely
“Tess” Recast

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

This sounds like one of our weekly Casting Couch contests in Solares Hill, where we pretend to remake old movies, oft-times coming up with novelty casts or different locales or odd plot twists.
Take for example Roman Polanski’s “Tess,” a soaring cinematic epic based on Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel “Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented.”
Starring Nastassja Kinski, the Polanski film faithfully tells the story of a strong-willed peasant girl who has a claim on a title but is wronged by her aristocratic cousin.
This Thomas Hardy story has been filmed at least seven times.
Now the famous British novel has been remade once again by Michael Winterbottom. It’s his third film based on Hardy novels (“Jude” and “The Claim” being the first two).
But this time around he puts a new spin on it, restaging the story in India. And instead of “Tess,” he titled it “Trishna.”
Frida Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”) takes the title role as the eldest daughter of a poor Indian family. And Riz Ahmed (“Centurion”)  is cast as her romantic counterpart, a wealthy young British businessman who has come to India to work in his father's hotel business. But love cannot always overcome the division between social classes.
Shot in Mumbai, the beautiful on-location cinematography delivers a very realistic perception of life in India. Thomas Hardy would hardly recognize the landscape, the slums of Rājasthān substituted for the rolling green hillocks of rural Wessex.
Nevertheless, the theme remains true. In his novels Hardy examined the social constraints of Victorian England, suggesting that “these rules hinder the lives of all involved and ultimately lead to unhappiness.” Likewise, the social castes of India are strong, and the film’s shocking conclusion makes the point.
“Trishna” is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema. It’s an old story retold from a fresh viewpoint. But the outcome remains the same for Tess/Trishna.

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