Wednesday, July 30, 2008

'An incredible accomplishment'

Rosemary Harris

  • Details have now been released about Courteney Cox's aforementioned directorial project starring Rosemary Harris. The short drama is entitled The Monday Before Thanksgiving, and according to IMDb will be released on October 15, 2008 in Los Angeles! Ms Harris plays Lillian Cotlo and stars alongside Laura Dern and Ms Cox herself. We will let you know when a synopsis emerges. (NB: We are also awaiting news about the previously mentioned The Yankee King, thought to have been filmed in Ireland last month).

Jennifer Ehle

On the rainy front, Thaindian News have hailed Before the Rains as 'a hit in Britain'. Indeed, in the wake of the British release, the film is being discussed all over the place, not least of all on the good old wireless:

  • At BBC Radio 5 Live, Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo evaluated the film as part of their regular cinematic round-up. Their discussion can be downloaded (scroll down to 'latest episode', and relevant chatter starts 39 minutes in). They also play a new audio clip. Alternatively, here is my paltry transcription:
[...] It's a solid piece of work...very beautiful to look at...very well shot. I think what it benefits mostly from is Linus Roache's central performance... he does guilty and conflicted like almost no other British actor...and that's what this central role requires of him. [It has] a good, solid, ensemble cast, a simple story, [it is] well-told [and] nicely paired down. ...
[...] The only criticism I have [is that] if it was on television on a Wednesday afternoon it wouldn't look out of place - I don't know that there's enough to get you into the cinema. ... Although I have to say, having gone into it with fairly little expectation, I did find it gripping, I thought it was well-played and it was a solidly put together drama. ... In an age when so many dramas aren't solidly put together, don't have believable characters and don't actually have a story to tell, it does have all of those things, and the time flew by. [...]

The dailies, weeklies and glossies meanwhile continue to expound their fair share of comments:

  • Cosmo Landesman for the Sunday Times calls the film 'a lush costume drama'. Despite adding that it overall 'seems rather inconsequential', he does admit the film 'is lovely to look at'.
  • Nigel Andrews of the Financial Times is somewhat more critical but again extols the visuals:
[...] There are bits of everything and not quite enough of anything. But director and ex-cinematographer Santosh Sivan does handsome screen painting. [...]
  • Continuing praise of the latter, Mark Adams of the Mirror says the film is:
[...] delightfully shot [and] there are certainly moments to enjoy. [...]
  • Moving upwards, Allan Hunter of the Sunday Express gives a big thumbs up:
[...] Handsome cinematography and decent performances turn this old-fashioned tale into the kind of quietly compelling drama. ... As the plot deepens into a tale of divided loyalties and moral dilemmas, this literate, small-scale picture exerts a much stronger grip. [...]
  • The most laudatory of all is James Mottram from Marie Claire:
[...] One of our most underrated actors, lovely Linus Roache goes all heartless on us in this steamy period piece set in India. With the always excellent Roache joined by equally unsung Jennifer Ehle (as his long-suffering wife), the result is a tense blend of passion and politics that burrows deep under your skin. [...]
  • Lastly, OK! magazine get straight to the point, and end up with a happy verdict:
[...] What’s good:
A moving story of forbidden love in a gorgeous setting, this is an involving romantic drama that’ll get you thinking. Henry’s an interesting character – he seems to love Sajani, but when it comes to the crunch he’s prepared to make selfish decisions to save his own skin. There are plenty of moral dilemmas to muse on in this tale.

What’s bad:
It’s slow-moving yet far from an epic.

OK! verdict:
A decorative, quietly moving drama, 3/5. [...]

One must not forget the cinema-going public however, who this week can't seem to get enough of Rains.

  • The film currently has a reader-rated average of 4/5 from New York Times readers. The latest viewer comments make interesting reading:
Reader one (5 stars)

[...] Back to old school cinema - a strong narrative, interesting characters and good acting. The rest of LA should take notice that an audience still enjoys quality stories instead of the same old sentimental [rubbish] salted with dull characters and predictable uber plots. Well done! [...]
Reader two (5 stars)
[...] Outstanding. ... this film is a wonderful and enlightening example of what film can do. At the same time that other films are trying to heighten suspense with special effects (how slowly can a bullet appear to travel?) this film accomplishes all it sets out to do simply through the special effects drama has always relied on: a great story well told by great actors, director, cinematographer, and many others. Mainstream filmmakers should be envious of this incredible accomplishment. [...]
  • In other quarters, blogger Kim Weiss nicely summed up the film as containing 'everything you love in a book, on screen'. She goes on to say:
[...] In my unofficial opinion, Before the Rains is an artistic masterpiece. ... Before the Rains didn’t disappoint me in the cinematic capacity but it happily drew me into a great story, good enough to curl up with and read in a novel. ...

I was holding my breath during the finale but walked out of the theatre intact. What was emotionally stirring did not turn out to be depressing. I much prefer to be dramatically affected by a movie without driving home in despair. Before the Rains left me slightly winded by the waves of feeling I experienced, but not devastated. The movie endures in a good way. Another movie measure for me is whether or not a movie stays with me as I leave the theatre. And, if it lasts even longer, all the better. Before the Rains did that for me. [...]

No comments: