Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rosemary Harris: Costume designer extraordinaire + Another deluge of reviews

It is official, there is nothing that Rosemary Harris cannot do. According to an interview in the Boston Herald, Jennifer Ehle's costumes in Before the Rains were based on a sketch drawn by her very own mother. Que fabulous!
[...] Ehle, who plays a betrayed colonial wife, had a special connection to the country. “What intrigued me was that my grandmother was in India just before this time. My grandfather was in the RAF (the Royal Air Force) and my mother actually spent her first six years in India.”
. . .
Ehle, 38, had been given costume sketches that looked like proper dress for London ladies, not colonial wives in a steamy climate. So Ehle asked her mother what her grandmother wore then.

Harris drew “A little picture of the dresses that used to be made by Indian tailors for the British women there. These were dresses that had to laundered.”

One picture stood out. Her mother described the fabric in detail, then Ehle photographed it and e-mailed the sketch to her producer.

“When I arrived there were these three dresses that were made of the exact fabric that my grandmother’s dresses used to be made from. It’s still the fabric that they would use. So those are the dresses that I wear in the film.”

Don't forget that Rains is opening in select cities across the US on Friday, May 16. To find out if it is coming to a theater near you, visit the film's official site and click on "Buy Tickets" for a comprehensive list of participating cities and theaters.

Myriad reviews have come out in anticipation of Friday's opening:
  • First, a lukewarm review at Metro Active is rendered positive via its praise for Jennifer Ehle:
    [...] One very good decision Sivan makes is his casting of the superb Jennifer Ehle as Laura, Henry's betrayed wife. While Sivan's conception of the role is anachronistic—Laura is a modern woman somehow living in 1937—Ehle doesn't give the audience the sense that her husband chose a hot-blooded native woman over a frigid Briton; her blood seems quite warm. [...]
  • Rex Reed at The New York Observer mentions the "elegiac Jennifer Ehle" and finds the movie to be a welcome respite from modern society:
    Grateful for small favors, I applaud Before the Rains, a lovely, lyrical film with perfect timing that is a welcome relief from BlackBerrys, iPods, gas taxes, punk rock, the failing economy and the boredom of cutthroat election campaigns. [...]
    He adds:
    [...] A sweeping film filled with lush scenery and breath-tightening suspense, Before the Rains has the look of a fine, erotically charged period epic (think The Painted Veil) driven by emotion, but as it binds its characters tighter within their self-made moral dilemmas, it shifts into the gears of a good film noir. [...]
  • Brandon Root of The Rake calls Before the Rains "a surprisingly effective, accessible, and beautiful riff on familiar themes" and concludes:
    [...] The success of the film is rooted in its simplicity. The photography, characters,and events fit perfectly into a concrete theme that is repeated throughout. Clocking in at 98 minutes, it feels streamlined and well edited, sustaining a well constructed level of tension until its satisfying conclusion. [...]
    He further praises the film's treatment of the groups on both sides of the cultural divide.
    [...] Despite the two-cultural-groups-that-just-don't-understand-each-other formula, which you can find in the "Oscar-pandering" section of your local video store, I was surprised with how even-handedly the film was written. I've always been a bit bothered by the ease at which Hollywood films of this type may be distilled down to misunderstood-saints-clad-in-brilliant-sterling-silver versus the incorrigibly wrong/frustrating adjacent cultural group. Before the Rains, by contrast, does an exceptional job of humanizing both sides. Sivan certainly injects his own ideas, but leaves plenty of room for viewers to draw their own conclusions. [...]
  • There are some nice comments from Monsters and Critics, who recommend DVDing the movie if it doesn't make it to your local theater:
    [...] There’s a lot going on in this film: you have the obvious theme of the detrimental effects of colonialism, and there is the struggle between classes and the sexes. The symbolism is a dense as the forest the workers have to cut through to make Moore’s road. Luckily we have a well-written script by the late Cathy Rabin as well as a cast of excellent actors and a focused director to make things clear. The camera work (also done by the director) is lush and sensual. BEFORE THE RAINS is an engaging, intelligent film. If you’re local independent theater doesn’t have it forthcoming add it to your DVD queue.
  • Hollywood Chicago mentions the film noir-ness of the movie and applauds the screenplay, director, and actors:
    [...] It is expertly played out in the screenplay by Cathy Rabin and Dan Verete while director Santosh Sivan creates the anxious mood of a noir thriller. These are top-notch performances. The Brits are cast so effectively and proper, in fact, as to have stepped right out of “Mary Poppins”. The Indian actors (especially the characters of T.K. and Sanjani) honor their ancestors with inherent portrayals by conjuring the empathy of being second-class citizens in their own land. [...]
    (At least I assume the Mary Poppins comment is meant to be a compliment!)
  • There is a fairly lengthy review at East Bay Express, which begins:
    The story is an ancient one: While a rich man's wife and child are away from home, the master falls in love with his beautiful young housemaid. When the lady of the house returns, tragedy befalls. That's the outline of filmmaker Santosh Sivan's lavishly produced costumed melodrama, Before the Rains, but director Sivan and the late screenwriter Cathy Rabin take care to stir in plot elements that raise the narrative from the domestic to the political to the universal, all while keeping its relatively tight focus on a British colonial family and its tea plantation in restive Southern India in the 1930s. [...]
    (Warning: the rest of the review contains a number of spoilers.)

  • Finally, Philadelphia Weekly has mixed feelings about the film, and Green Cine Daily didn't care for it. (Definitely in the minority.)

In addition to the reviews:

  • There is quite a lot of audio interviewage from the Tribeca Film Festival at Mosaec. However, a very significant member of the acting quartet is MIA. Still worth listening to, of course.
  • Rahul Bose discusses his role in Before the Rains, among other things, in an interesting interview at Rediff News.
  • And, Cinematical informs us that Rains took in $6,019 per screen at eight locations last weekend at the box office. (Note: not enough to beat Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead!)

Other tidbits:

  • We haven't forgotten about Pride and Glory. The Los Angeles Times discusses the importance of finding the perfect title for a movie.

    When they met last year with executives at New Line Cinema, marketing consultants Seth Lockhart and Jamil Barrie pitched their 10 favorite alternative titles for "Pride and Glory," a police drama starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell. Then they passed around a report with dozens of others that didn't make their cut.

    "One of Our Own" caught the eye of Russell Schwartz, New Line's marketing chief at the time, who asked, "What's wrong with this one?"

    That's when Lockhart, who hated "One of Our Own" because it sounded to him like a tag line, gave a kick under the table to Barrie -- who thought it perfectly suited the tale of cops betrayed by a corrupt colleague. When even the partners who call their consulting firm TitleDoctors disagree, it's clear the business of naming movies can be tricky. [...]

  • Lookie - according to Playbill, a Utopian is going to be playing Mr. Darcy at the Geva Theatre Center.
  • For those of you who haven't heard, the Tony nominations were announced yesterday morning (see Playbill for a complete list of nominees), and Martha Plimpton has once again been nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play. We’re free to cheer her on this year! Repeat nominations for other Utopians include David Pittu, Catherine Zuber, Scott Pask, Natasha Katz, and some dude named Tom Stoppard. Speaking of Sir Tom, we are still waiting for an official announcement that Jennifer Ehle has been cast in the Donmar’s Ivanov. We'll keep you posted!


T said...

HAHA you actually mentioned Poultrygeist. Je t'aime mi amor!

Kate said...

Haha I was hoping you would like that! ;)