Attempting to adapt literature classics into films is sometimes like treading on eggshells. You have two routes, the safe route a straight forward word by word adaptation or you could go for the contemporary reworking transporting a story possibly to another timescale or at least another location. British film director Michael Winterbottom is no stranger to diversity, trying to be different, maybe a new fresh approach to a classical piece of writing. For this film it’s a modern take on a classic Thomas Hardy novel, Tess of The d’Urbervilles. TRISHNA is Winterbottom’s third attempt at a hardy novel (Jude, The Claim are the other two)and probably his most daring of all the Hardy novels to date.
Frieda Pinto plays Trishna a softly well mannered young woman who lives (and works) with her family in a rural part of Rajasthan a poor part of India. During her work, she crosses paths with Jay (Riz Ahmed) a British born Indian son of a wealthy hotel owner who is smitten with Trishna who learns about her father’s crippling accident and offers her a job at one of his father’s hotels in Jaipur. It is here their friendship blossoms but because of Jay and Trishna’s class status, their relationship must be kept a secret.
Their problems seem to be solved when Jay takes Trishna to an exciting new world of dance, vibrant life and possibilities in the city of Mumbai. But Trishna harbours a dark secret that threatens the very heart of their love affair, and inequalities remain at the centre of their relationship that will lead her to question Jay’s intentions towards her.
If I was, to be frank, which I will be Trishna is tedious. It felt like that embarrassing boil you have on your backside. As the film drags on it feels like the poison of boil sailing through your veins its so hypnotic some of my fellow critics were falling asleep some even walking out. Most of the time the film moved at a snail’s pace but you hang eagerly hoping something will happen or kick off but sadly you end up disappointed, anything that resembles something happening don’t blink as you’ll miss it.
It does seem Winterbottom has taken an improvised approach to the script giving the whole film an in-disciplined feel which too formal for a story that’s very formal in nature. Everything starts fine a story of young love but as the film progresses you start to loose grip of the emotional connection that was created in the first part of the film. You even start to loose the sympathy for Trishna and if Jay is that prince among men that knight in shining armour that will whisk Trishna of her feet to a better life. Both actors are simply monotone, unconvincing and certainly no chemistry.
Unless human tension, been possessive are two subjects that are high on your list of entertainment values this film will be a big disappointment, even arthouse purists will struggle with the film. Despite it’s modern day settings which do actually work anyone not familiar with the original novel will probably be lost in translation trying to attempt any sort of connection , however if your determined to see Trishna a bit of ‘light reading’ will be in order before you embark on the perilous journey to your local arthouse cinema. If you don’t Trishna will feel like a 2-hour video presentation for the Indian Tourist board as Winterbottom does capture the stunning beauty of rural India sadly one of the only plus points about this film but if you read my reviews you’ll know stunning locations don’t mean 5-star reviews.
Drama | UK, 2011 | 15 |2012 Glasgow Film Festival | 9th March 2012 (UK)| Curzon Artifical Eye Film | Dir.Michael Winterbotton | Roshan Seth, Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed