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With: Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed, Roshan Seth
Written by: Michael Winterbottom, based on a novel by Thomas Hardy
Directed by: Michael Winterbottom
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality, some violence, drug use and language
Running Time: 117
Date: 09/09/2011

Trishna (2012)

1 Star (out of 4)

A Mess of a 'Tess'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Michael Winterbottom is clearly smitten with India in Trishna, a re-working of Thomas Hardy's classic novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles. He offers long, loving shots of cityscapes and decorative postcard shots of countrysides. Often, he also spends long moments following his characters moving from one place to another, even if nothing else is happening. For local color, there are even a few scenes of dancers performing Bollywood-style moves. Unfortunately, after all this, he forgets to spend much time actually telling his story or getting to know his characters.

Trishna (Freida Pinto) is the eldest daughter of a poor family in India. While dancing one night, she meets Jay (Riz Ahmed), the son of a wealthy hotel man. He offers her a job in a hotel, which she desperately needs after a traffic accident has left her father bedridden. She becomes Jay's lover, but because of societal pressures, Jay is forced to keep their relationship a secret. Eventually the relationship becomes unhealthy and quasi-abusive, and Trishna is forced to make a tough decision.

Winterbottom's third Hardy adaptation (after Jude and The Claim), Trishna is a dry, inert, frustrating, and boring experience, more detours than drama. When the male lead finally expresses his love and longing for his leading lady, the scene fizzles. Her response is dead-eyed, and therefore, there's no romantic or emotional arc to their relationship. It's totally dreary, and as it slides downhill, the story seems more inevitable than tragic. Thomas Hardy fans may find something worthwhile here, but most others shouldn't bother.

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