Shows that Merchant couldn't direct.
| Original Score: 1/5
An Indian drama about the de-humanizing effects of class-warfare.
There's a definite thrill to be gained from watching elements of genre trash invade such a film.
| Original Score: B
Cotton Mary, Ismail Merchant's second film as a director, puts some interestingly layered material into play, but he can't quite bring it together.
| Original Score: 2/4
Cotton Mary suffers from its lack of sympathetic characters, but it is still far from a disaster.
| Original Score: 71/100
Engrossing from the first frame and written with admirable skill and insight by Alexandra Viets, Cotton Mary is a milestone for Merchant Ivory and a pleasure for the company's admirers.
| Original Score: 4.5/5
Nothing is expressed directly; only the curtains move, blowing in the subcontinent wind.
| Original Score: C
As a serious reflection on the impact of colonial exploitation on both its perpetrators and its victims, it pretty much misses the boat.
| Original Score: C-
Not a fully realized film.
A heavy-handed melodrama whose title character is a symbol with a capital S.
| Original Score: D+
Cotton Mary is uncommonly well-acted and beautifully shot on location in southern India, but it's not exactly riveting.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
As fascinating as the central character is, the film has all the excitement of watching the glaze harden on a scone.
The entire film lacks the subtlety which is the hallmark of good writing.
It's as though, in documenting cultural queerness afoot, [Merchant] skipped the institution and went straight for the loony bin.
Cotton Mary...is an obsequious, scheming, condescending, ambitious, callous, insincere, officious snob and thief. Two hours in her company is too much to ask.
Patchy at best.
All very, very long-winded. And it's a basic filmic truth that if you fail to provide an audience with even one character to sympathise with, interest will rapidly flag.
Credible and moving that Greta Scacchi's performance is, Madhur Jaffrey is the real jewel of this Merchant-Ivory work.
| Original Score: 8/10
Merchant's filmmaking is at times wooden and conventional, but Cotton Mary is brought to life by the weirdness of its subject matter and the risks Madhur Jaffrey takes in her brilliant performance.
Cotton Mary proves a history lesson can be fun.