Every ten years, Sight & Sound conducts a poll for the greatest films of all time. For the 2012 edition, 846…
Based on Thomas Hardy’s classic novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles, ‘Trishna’ tells the story of one woman whose life is destroyed by a combination of love and circumstances. Set in contemporary Rajasthan, Trishna (Freida Pinto) meets a wealthy young British businessman Jay Singh (Riz Ahmed) who has come to India to work in his father’s hotel business. After an accident destroys her father’s Jeep, Trishna goes to work for Jay, and they fall in love. But despite their feelings for each other, they cannot escape the conflicting pressures of a rural society which is changing rapidly through industrialisation, urbanisation and, above all, education. Trishna’s tragedy is that she is torn between the traditions of her family life and the dreams and ambitions that her education has given her.
In Trishna, Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles is transported to modern day Jaipur by the mercurial and prolific Micheal Winterbottom, his third Hardy adaptation (Jude in 1996 from Jude the Obscure and 2000's The Claim based on The Mayor Of Casterbridge precede it) and sadly one of his lesser works.
Riz Ahmed stars as Jay the son of a rich Jaipur hotelier (Roshan Seth) with ambitions to be a key player in the Bollywood film industry. We meet him instantly, travelling with friends visiting ancient temples and, like any young man in both Hardy's time and now, drinking beer and discussing girls. One girl in question utterly captivates him one evening at a traditional party; this is Trishna, played…
The Hotel Life
that ish cray
As an adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles set in a completely different context, I think Trishna almost succeeded. It tried to stay on the side of realism as much as possible, from the documentary style camerawork and sound editing to the naturalistic dialogue and performances. It would've been a great film if it didn't feel like it dragged. It's only an hour and 45 minutes, but for some reason it feels like it takes forever to make its point. It was great to see a film set in India with minimal singing and dancing, but it felt like it was trying too hard to feel important. There is also a tonal shift towards the end that is jarring and difficult to predict. However, I was left cold, rather than shocked or shaken. I haven't read the book in years, but I definitely don't remember it ending that way.
While Trishna didn't work for me, I wouldn't call it a failure. This is a very 'loose' adaptation of a Thomas Hardy novel: Tess of the d'Urbervilles, directed by Michael Winterbottom. Winterbottom took the book and set it in modern India, and it feels like two very different movies but never convincingly jelled as one. The first one is a romance between two young lovers with different backgrounds set in a vibrant city. You see here that Winterbottom is focusing more on the city and culture of India itself than the relationship. Then it shifts into another gear where the story takes place in rural India, as Winterbottom focus more on the couple's relationship and the struggle between the two.…
Kind of great as long as it doesn't pay attention to the plot, even though the plot is freakin' Tess of the D'Urbervilles. (Or a seriously maimed version of it, that is: two of the three main characters have been combined, for reasons that only make sense in some perverse intellectual way.) Winterbottom's whiplashy filmmaking is great at covering up conceptual holes, namely the pesky problem of Freida Pinto being the Webster's picture for the term "pretty vacant." But things do eventually slow down, and the final stretch has the thinness that too maim so many of Winterbottom's works.
This was quite beautifully filmed and the lead actress did a really fantastic job. I can't say that I was as into the story as I wish I had been?Particularly when everything begins to "fall apart" so to speak, I felt like that could have been handled with a much better touch.
The Hotel Life
This was better than I expected, and Freida Pinto is particularly good. But one of the beautiful things about the novel is that Tess gets to be more than someone who suffers beautifully. Trishna doesn't have that opportunity. That kind of messed it up for me.
Ideologically, though, I think this is really interesting. It doesn't show the (first) rape, but it does show the abortion (not graphically or anything). More attention gets devoted to the abusive relationship that follows. And Riz Ahmed is sexy enough, and self-absorbed enough to buy his own thinking about the world, that you can see the attraction that lends ambiguity to the relationship.
I do like that Trishna gets to stand up a bit to her garbage family - Tess never manages. And the absence of an Angel Clare analog is a blessing.
Hardy's tragic tale rests on inevitability; Tess could do nothing else. Winterbottom's film doesn't have that. Instead he presses down on one side of the scales.The result is a set of characters lacking conviction and a melodrama that could easily be avoided. It has all the self-worthy portentousness of a BBC2 Sunday serial from the 70s but is completely unconvincing, flat and dull.
Director Michael Winterbottom’s re-location of Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel, Tess of the D’Urbervilles to 21st Century India yields limited benefits in Trishna. This is his third stab at Hardy after Jude, which featured Christopher Eccleston and The Claim, which was loosely based on The Mayor of Casterbridge.
The appeal of Hardy would appear to be the heightened, extreme narratives with tragic outcomes that nevertheless have contemporary resonance. It is as if Winterbottom is saying that even today we are never far from Victorian cruelty; we just do not necessary find it right on our doorstep.
Trishna (Frieda Pinto) is a young woman who works with her father. A road accident puts the family in debt and she takes a job…
Well-paced, amazingly acted and superbly post-modern. Trishna has an effortlessness that mimics the cruelty of reality as is follows Pinto's expertly rendered titular character through her uncomfortably familiar tragedy. Just breathtaking.
Trishna is Michael Winterbottom’s second adaptation of a Thomas Hardy novel, following his 1996 Jude, but while that film retained its period trappings and British locale, Trishna is a contemporary recasting of Tess of the d’Urbervilles set in India. This transfer has its benefits (there’s a travelogue quality to this country-spanning film that’s not to be discounted) and its drawbacks (moving the action from the English countryside, it’s lost much of its elemental power). Hardy’s plot is retained, for the most part, but Winterbottom gives the second half of the film an overheated vibe, out of In the Realm of the Senses. Here the film threatens to alienate audiences who have been drawn in my lilting music and pretty pictures, but it does credibly lift the tale to the realm of tragedy. What we end up with is lesser than Jude and certainly inferior to Polanski’s Tess adaptation, but still a damn fine adult romantic drama nonetheless.
Michael Winterbottom's loose adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles works well relocated to India. It loses it in the last half hour, sadly, as it has to suddenly rush headlong towards its tragic denouement, leaving plausibility behind as it does so.
An updated and transported retelling of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles (modern day and in India), the film is almost illogically lacking any emotion which makes it all rather perplexing.
Michael Winterbottom directs Trishna (he tackled Hardy literature once before with Jude featuring Kate Winslet) and he has captured the opposing Indian landscapes -- urban sprawl and rural pastures -- quite nicely as the writing has intelligently updated elements of the novel to fit into present-day India (as it is still agriculture-heavy at times). The "updating" is the best part of Trishna as the characters and their story aren't well handled.
As I watched, I wondered how things would be changed and/or interpreted to fit India ... and Winterbottom…
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