Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Jul 12th, 2012

FILM: Trishna, starring Frieda Pinto

Not your mother’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, director Michael Winterbottom’s take on the Thomas Hardy novel is updated and set in India. The setting gives the film beauty and vitality, although the story itself is a mixed cinematic bag.

Starring Freida Pinto as Trishna, the oldest daughter of a poor family, and Riz Ahmed as Jay, the well to do property developer’s son, the film is strongest in its visual intensity, and in the riveting performance of Pinto. The updating of the story fits the setting, and the film offers an insightful and compelling look at India’s industrial growth. However, the chemistry between the leads is somewhat lacking, and the plot turns in the last third are ultimately problematic.

Pinto’s Trishna’s is trapped by her class poverty and the confines of her sex, but for the majority of her screen time, she maintains a belief in the possibility of love and fortune, in the intrinsic goodness of others, and that doing the right thing will win out, regardless of the class and sexual politics of India.

Trishna works at a resort in Rajasthan to help sustain her family. She gains the attraction of the wealthy Jay at a dance, and Jay works over time to win her heart. They move to Mumbai together. Trishna openly becomes his lover, and works hard to shape herself into an upper class woman in order to please him. Even as she ascends the class ladder, at least on the surface; the events of Trishna’s life become increasingly difficult. Her economic position is entirely dependant upon Jay, and unstable. Initially, Jay is passionately drawn to her shy innocence. He woos her obsessively. He’s a romantic believer in the happiness that love, and wealth, can create when one begets the other, and convinces her of his love. But in fact, Jay is extremely discontented with his father’s world, and decidedly immature. His whirlwind romance is more of a distraction for him than a life altering passion, even if he wishes it were. So it is hardly a surprise when his discontent spills over onto Trishna, and their love affair becomes abusive. Jay begins a rapid descent into very bad behavior, and Trishna, in turn, takes a very sudden turn to brutal revenge. Neither of these turns is completely believable or compelling, although Ms. Pinto’s fine range, and cinematographer Marcel Zyskin’s sweeping style make it easy to overlook these fairly major flaws in the short term.

Trishna, starring Frieda Pinto and directed by Michael Winterbottom opens at The Landmark in Los Angeles July 13th.

About the Author

- Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and produced screen and television writer. New books include the romantic suspense of Executive Impulse (Crimson); more romance and mystery with Between the Sheets (Entangled), co-written with Linda Marr; and the mystery thriller Marathon (Five Star/Cenage). Her previous titles include the award winning romantic suspense of The Model Man and Five O’Clock Shadow (Kensington); the literary fiction of Dreamtown (FictionWorks), and the erotic novella Rodeo Man (as Nikki Alton) in The Cowboy anthology (Aphrodisia). In film, her work spans a variety of genres from supernatural thriller to romantic drama, family, teen, and comedy with an emphasis on independent film. A member of the Writer’s Guild of America, she’s written on staff for ABC-TV’s Port Charles; written, produced, and directed reality programming and documentaries for TLC, Lifetime, PBS, and HGTV, as well as numerous television commercials and corporate videos. She’s also written hundreds of articles on travel, love, the arts, writing, tech, food, parenting, and more.

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FILM: Trishna, starring Frieda Pinto