4 April 2012 | freemantle_uk
There have been many modernisations of classic novels and plays, from Alfonso Cuaron's Great Expectations and Baz Luhrman's version of Romeo + Juliet. Now Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles have been given a modern version thanks to Michael Winterbottom.
In Rajasthan, Trishna (Freida Pinto) is a young woman in rural Rajasthan who lives with her large family and meets a British traveller, Jay Singh (Riz Ahmed). When her father is badly injured and the family indebted, Jay offers Freida the her a job at his father's hotel in Jaipur. Soon Jay offers Freida the chance of an education, advancement and financial support for her family. But as they grow closer they start a on-off relationship and are continually drawn to each other.
Setting the updated version of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, it would not have worked in Modern Britain and India does have issues involving rural poverty, a massive class divide, splits between rich and poor and traditional social values in that nation. But I found Trishna to be a rather dull affair. It was boring from a story perspective, that it wanted to try and cram too much of the novel into the film, resulting with numerous montages showing the passing of time instead of showing events in detail. The visuals and the performances are bland, the cinematography and art direction neither has any real grit or realism nor a bright colourful visual. There are some good moments like a tender moment when Jay and Trishna are in bed and she reveals a secret and when the relationship when it gets darker. But at the same time I did not quite buy the relationship between the two, either as it was forbidden or that Ray is Trishna because for the most part it seem like Ray was good for her. Ahmed is a decent actor but I did not buy there was a darkness in his character early on. I put it more down to writing and direction then Ahmed himself. Pinto was okay but she has been better. She has let to find the right vehicle since Slumdog Millionaire.
Winterbottom's direction had a weird paradox, because of the need to cram so much that the film felt rushed but other times the film felt like it was dragging and stalling. The editing and pace was all over the place and there was no coincidence. He is much better then this.
Amit Trivedi and Shigeru Umebayashi did provide a very pretty soundtrack and score, helping provide for the Indian feel the film was going for.
Sadly Trishna was a disappointment and this is certainly not a repeat of Slumdog Millionaire.