Court

Court ★★★★

Biggest surprise is finding out that Tamhane is only 28; this feels like it was made by some contemplative middle-aged person - though, crucially, the contemplative side (serene wide-shots from the back of the courtroom, stuff like that) is balanced by the cut and thrust of the legal drama. A "people's poet" is harassed through the justice system - but in fact the justice system is a collection of people, each one with their life outside the courtroom, a bittersweet irony that smoulders with quiet anger (it's great that the judge and lawyers emerge as human beings, but meanwhile the old man himself is rotting in prison), and of course there's also India, the larger case beyond this particular one - a country of contrasts, still struggling to become "post-colonial". The judge speaks Hindi (his speech gets interrupted by a workman bringing in an electric fan, air-conditioning not being part of this rickety justice system), the witness Marathi, the Westernised young lawyer speaks English; he listens to jazz and shops for red wine, then gets beaten up for insulting some obscure rural tribe. A film that contains contradictions, and does so effortlessly; entertaining, formally confident, and wise beyond its maker's years.

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