Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's "Raining" in the UK

Before the Rains officially opened in the UK on Friday, and unsurprisingly, a new flock of reviews has just flown in.

The Independent gives the film three out of five stars and says:
[...] Jennifer Ehle makes a welcome appearance as Roache's deceived wife, though acting honours go to Bose, his face an eloquently shifting register of shame, calculation and sympathy.
Although Tim Robey of The Telegraph didn't exactly love the movie, he was astute enough to make the following observation:
[...] There's more than a glint of Forster or Maugham in the affair between the British imperialist Henry Moores (a solid Linus Roache) and his housemaid Sajani (Nandita Das), which reaches a tragic impasse when his wife (Jennifer Ehle, sterling as usual) returns from England. [...]
In the same vein, Matthew Turner of View London says:
[...] Henry's bliss is short-lived, first because his wife Laura (Jennifer Ehle, lovely as ever) arrives from England with their young son in tow [...]
He later adds:
[...] The performances are good too, particularly the central trio of Roache, Bose and Das, although Ehle is rather wasted as Laura. [...]
While the review at Empire does not mention the welcome-ness, sterling-ness, or loveliness of any of the cast members in particular, it does applaud the leading players in general:
[...] Still, if the characters sometimes feel roughly drawn and over-pitched, the casting, particularly of the leads (Jennifer Ehle also stars), is spot on. [...]
For additional reviews with a mixed flavor, check out The Evening Standard, The Guardian, The Observer (*spoiler alert*), The Times, and Channel 4 Film.

For reviews that leave a bitter aftertaste, visit The Sun, Metro, Eye for Film, and Total Film.

Lastly, for something in the non-review category, The Toronto Star has a nice article about Nandita Das, who is quite a fascinating person. Here is a sample:
Nandita Das has never been one to shy away from controversy.

An unconventional actor in her choice of film roles, her repertoire includes playing a lesbian in Fire, a rape victim in Bawander, a witch in Maati Maay and a maid in love with her married white master in Before the Rains.

But her favourite film hasn't happened yet, she says over the phone from India. With three dozen acting credits, Das, who will be in Toronto this weekend for a retrospective of her films at the Masala! Mehndi! Masti! festival (starting tonight at the Queen Elizabeth theatre at Exhibition Place) has achieved greater fame outside India than within her own country.
. . .
"Many of my films have been triggers for conversations around social justice. So I see this (retrospective) as more like an exchange of ideas and thoughts, and sharing of common concerns around issues of women and social justice, which are close to my heart."

Das's background in grassroots human rights advocacy – she has a master's degree in social work from Delhi University and has worked tirelessly to help uplift poor women and children – tends to influence the roles she chooses.
. . .
Das has spent the last nine months directing her first feature film, Firaaq (an Urdu word that means both separation and quest), an experience she calls thoroughly enjoyable and highly stressful.

"In acting at least you're focusing on one thing, but when you're directing, my God, you have to focus on 100 things almost simultaneously." [...]

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