Quantity may not equal quality but Michael Winterbottom’s cracking effort of nineteen feature films in seventeen years, does go a long way towards undermining the cliché.  Tishna is his latest of the nineteen and thus at the very least I would like to stress how worthy this film is of commendation given the director’s overflowing schedule.  Don’t worry though this film is far more than just well timetabled.

As a modern twist on the classic Thomas Hardy novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Winterbottom has made some bold and absorbing decisions.  Aside from setting the tale across contemporary Rajasthan and Mumbai, story wise he has gutted and budged the main elements of the original; merging characters, tweaking and shifting plot points.  Wise choices indeed, Winterbottom’s screenplay allows for captivating depictions of both countryside and metropolis whilst maintaining the necessary essence of the tale.  Plot wise we see the rise and fall of the relationship between the impoverished Trishna (Freida Pinto) and her privileged boss turned lover, Jay Singh (Riz Ahmed).  Ahmed’s performance really holds the film together, walking the rare line between edgy and delicate.  Pinto’s performance, whilst being of her trademark gormlessly majestic range, does sit neatly within the circus that is India/Riz Ahmed’s charisma.  Around the players Winterbottom’s camera moves with an understated swagger and whilst working with a modest budget, he economically presents the spectacle of the subcontinent.  Smoothly flowing along the top of the picture is a matchless effort on the music front with original songs by Amit Trivedi and a score by Shigeru Umebayashi previously of Bollywood and Japanese film industry success respectively.  My only gripe is the ending; it’s rushed.  Without going too far into spoiler territory the rate at which the relationship changes a) happens too quickly and b) isn’t shot with the calm attention to detail that is required for such a series of events.  Considering the care taken in the first three quarters of the film is it actually quite confusing as to why the director didn’t do likewise when it came to what should’ve been the crowing point.  Still I’m going to give the director the benefit of the doubt and put this one fly in the ointment down to some sort of lost footage or legal issue accident.  Why? Because making movies is bloody hard work, especially when you’re using half the normal amount of time.

Rating: 4/5

Review by Robbie King.


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