Trishna Rebecca-Barry'S REVIEW

British director Michael Winterbottom is known for his versatility, his repertoire including A Mighty Heart, 24 Hour Party People and the controversially sexual 9 Songs. Once again he throws viewers into another world, transporting Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbevilles to present-day India.

Tess becomes Trishna, played by Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto, whose striking beauty is her character’s greatest gift and curse. Winterbottom cleverly twists a Victorian fable of power and exploitation into a thoroughly modern and tragic love story.

If Slumdog and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are tour guide movies, Trishna goes off the beaten track, spanning India’s poor and wealthy from the hard-living rural life of the protagonist’s roots in Rajasthan to the glossy, kitsch Bollywood world she finds herself drawn to in Mumbai.

Trishna’s identity fluctuates throughout as she navigates her way from labourer to glamorous city-dweller to servant, and Pinto plays the character with strength and humility, despite the increasingly degrading things she’s subjected to. When life doesn’t pan out as expected, however, there’s a moment where the actors feel lost and what happens next feels forced.

Using a naturalistic style that almost lends it a documentary feel, Trishna drags its way through the first hour and steams through the second. As the drama begins to develop, it’s moving but jarring, as though panic has set in. The result is a film that is intoxicating, emotional and exhausting. You’ll feel like you’ve been to India and back.