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trishnaThis movie is based on the novel by Thomas Hardy (no, not the villain in the latest Batman). That novel from the 1800s is brought into modern-day India.

Trishna (Frieda Pinto) is trying to help her dad, who fell asleep in his truck and got badly injured. Since he can’t work, she steps up. That involves her working for Jay (Riz Ahmed, who is great in the role). They first meet at a nightclub when he’s with his buddies horsing around. He really shows a sweet side when he stops by to visit and seems concerned with the fathers health. He offers her a job at one of his rich dads hotels.

I enjoyed the slow pacing of the courtship. One of my pet peeves is how poorly courtships are done in movies. This one was working.

There’s this problem they have since she’s a servant and he’s the rich employer. They aren’t equal, but they eventually move to Mumbai. You get the feeling things won’t work out the way Trishna believes they will.

The second act gets a little bogged down and it’s about that time I started realizing something. Frieda Pinto isn’t a good actress. Oh, she’s beautiful…and very expressive eyes. I just wished the rest of her were.

Director Michael Winterbottom has done movies I love (The Trip) and movies I’ve hated (Tristram Shandy). He certainly shows India to be chaotic (how is it even possible to film there?); and the colors and music work nicely.

I’m just not sure why I wasn’t moved. I cry easily during movies, even some Visa commercials. A story about love, seduction, and betrayal…should’ve done a number on me. Instead, the third act was done horribly and could’ve been written so much better.

SPOILER ALERT: How can we have sympathy for a woman that turns to murdering this man? As horrible as he is, she could easily leave him. She could go back to Mumbai, talk to the guy that was going to put her in Bollywood productions (she was a very good and loved doing it). Or, if you are dead-set on having her stab him to death…why not do it while he’s forcing himself on Trishna? Film it so she asks him to stop and he doesn’t. She tries getting away, he slaps her, and she grabs the knife and stabs him. At that point, we’d be on her side. The way it was done, I wasn’t (the female friend with me was, and felt it was justified. That was odd, since she’s a lawyer). SPOILER ALERT OVER.

I thought the Bollywood stuff worked, but their relationship didn’t seem convincing.

There was also a scene where she was completely humiliated, and it felt forced and didn’t work. The same way I felt Jack Nicholson humiliating a prostitute at the end of Carnal Knowledge didn’t work.

The cinematography is good, but you can’t recommend a movie based on that.

This is the Exotic Marigold Hotel for people that aren’t 85, but 25.

I’m giving it 2 stars out of 5.

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