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Trishna Reviews

Page 1 of 5
Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

November 19, 2013
Decent movie. Not so much like Thomas Hardy's classic novel Tess of the D'Ubervilles, of which this was supposed to be loosely based. Very loosely. Freida Pinto is very beautiful, and a decent actress. This movie just seemed to drag on, and on.
hunterjt13
hunterjt13

Super Reviewer

May 21, 2013
A lower class woman falls for an upper class man.
This is how class-conscious love stories should be done. Class becomes palpable and real, and the sacrifices that each lover must undertake in order to make the match work ring true and compelling. Rather than falling into the trap of being generalized, Jay must at times give up aspects of his livelihood for Trishna, who later becomes so engrossed in the relationship that what she gives up becomes stomach-curdling and ultimately tragic.
Michael Winterbottom fashions a film out of such short scenes, and he does so expertly, able to compact huge spaces of time and dramatic jumps of character.
However, I did not like the end, which seemed to wrap things up too neatly.
Overall, this is very strong film, and it's fitting because British and Indian filmmakers are more attuned to the ravages of class difference than we are.
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

November 25, 2012
Ever since the success of Slumdog Millionaire, Freida Pinto has struggled to establish herself in roles of a similar calibre. While her talent and commitment are plain to see, she has very often ended up as the best thing in a bad production, such as Julian Schnabel's heavily flawed Miral. She finds herself in broadly the same position with Trishna, Michael Winterbottom's third attempt at adapting Thomas Hardy which fulfils on far too little of its great potential.

Winterbottom is no stranger to Hardy's work, but his attempts at adaptation vary greatly. His take on Jude the Obscure, Hardy's last and most controversial novel, was handsomely mounted but often boring, while The Claim (based loosely on The Mayor of Casterbridge) is immensely entertaining. Winterbottom got the idea for this take on Tess of the D'Urbervilles while shooting on location for his neo-noir Code 46. He was struck by the similarities between 21st-century India and 19th-century Wessex, and thought that such an unusual setting would bring something new to the story.

To be fair to Winterbottom, Trishna does get the beats of Hardy's story down pat. The opening sets up the difference in background between our two main characters and fated lovers. Trishna's humble existence, waiting tables, helping her father and living in the countryside with her family, is contrasted with Jay's affluent lifestyle in the relatively care-free and modern city. We are unsure of how much to trust Jay, wondering whether he is helping Trishna because he loves her or because he wants to sleep with her. His visits to temples and other ancient sites are intercut with him partying with mates or joyriding around in a jeep.

After Trishna finds work with Jay's father, she opens up to Jay bit by bit and becomes accepted by her new friends in the city. Jay is there to protect her, but he subsequently takes advantage of her, albeit not quite as literally as in Hardy's novel. Trishna spends the remainder of the film to-ing and fro-ing between her two lives, increasingly burdened by guilt, fear and shame. Eventually there is only one course of action she can take, though again this is altered slightly from Hardy's story.

Having got all the key plot points in place, Trishna makes an attempt to justify setting the story in India. And this, unfortunately, is where things start to come unstuck. The location seems to make sense in relation to the characters, and there are certain parallels that fans of the novel will pick up on of their own accord. But Winterbottom never adds anything weighty into the mix to justify the setting on top of the film being a decent transliteration.

One of the main themes of Tess of the D'Urbervilles is that of the countryside being exploited and eventually eclipsed by the vast progress and speed of city life. Hardy sought to demonstrate how industrial production and the growth in population were destroying traditional farming communities; this is usually conveyed through the breakdown of a family or, as in Far From The Madding Crowd, the insecurities of a female protagonist. Tess is a character caught between two worlds, being too gifted and ambitious for a life of simple rural pleasures, but too helpless and na´ve to make her way in the city. Her actions speak of panic and despair, and her death represents the triumph of urban Victorian society over the agrarian ones that preceded it.

With this in mind, it makes perfect sense to set a new adaptation in India. The country is undergoing a similar wave of rapid industrial and technological progress that made England once the fastest-developing nation on Earth. The gulf between rich and poor is widening, with the wealth generated in the rapidly expanding cities barely extending into the more traditional countryside. And despite the legacy of the British Empire in terms of bureaucratic and democratic governance, its infrastructure is still developing and taking shape.

Had Winterbottom applied himself, he could really have entrenched Hardy's story in India. He could have used the central romance to bring out the parallels between Hardy's Wessex and modern-day India, throwing in ideas about the erosion or persistence of caste, gender expectations for women and the role of religion among the young and upwardly mobile. But instead the story just sits awkwardly in India, like a Shakespeare play that has been set somewhere unusual as a gimmick. The parallels are there superficially, but Winterbottom either isn't able or isn't willing to let us get beneath the surface.

The next big problem, relating to this, is the editing. When Roman Polanski made his version of Tess in the late-1970s, he very consciously took his time, using the slow pace to convey the calmness of country life into which the destructive forces intrude. Winterbottom does the complete opposite, frequently jumping locations and cutting in the middle of scenes in an obvious bid to keep the plot moving. Rapid editing is not a bad thing in and of itself, and in certain cases like Moulin Rouge! it can be effective. But in this instance it is incredibly distracting and demonstrates a lack of faith in either the story or the director's chosen means of telling it.

Then we come on to the central performance. Polanski also benefitted in this department, getting Natassja Kinski at the very peak of her powers in what is to many the definitive portrayal of Tess. Freida Pinto is no Natassja Kinski - that's a hard act for anyone to follow - but she's also rather distant for a lot of the running time. She delivers her lines capably but her performance is all on one note until the final act. Riz Ahmed is the more charismatic and intriguing of the leads, successfully conveying a man standing on shaky ground, with plenty of insecurities, always in two minds and capable of great and jealous anger.

Pinto's performance is indicative of the overall tone. Even though it's half the length of Polanski's Tess, at 108 minutes the film feels flat and drags quite badly. With the exception of the climactic last ten minutes, the film feels like it is constantly going round in circles, with the characters not developing and the different events that occur seeming inconsequential. The central romance becomes like an episodic soap opera, a feeling exacerbated by the use of montage when Trishna is working in the hotels.

The main feeling that Trishna produces is frustration, because there are interesting ideas lurking in its make-up that would make for engaging drama. There are a number of moments involving Trishna herself which are genuinely tense or uncomfortable - being confronted in the street by four men only to be rescued by Jay, being given an abortion after Jay goes AWOL, or her eventual death by the same blade with which she murdered her lover. But while these moments are powerful in isolation, they all feel like isolated glimpses of what could and should be, bursting through a needlessly frothy and melodramatic surface.

Trishna is neither more nor less than an admirable failure. Relocating Hardy's story to India makes a great deal of sense, and the basic plot and character arcs are all capably replicated. But it ultimately fulfils on far too little of its potential, settling for superficial parallels over true substance and being mechanically unsound. Winterbottom has better films in him, and makes them quick enough to put this disappointment swiftly behind him. As for Freida Pinto, the search for a more deserving vehicle goes on.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

June 20, 2012
It takes a while to figure out what Winterbottom wants to say with what apears to be a conventional love story set in India, but soon the film proves to be more ironic, intense and emotionally draining than it seemed at first - with a very surprising third act.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

August 14, 2012
After hanging out with his friends at a hotel in rural India, Jay(Riz Ahmed) gives Trishna(Freida Pinto), a cute worker at the hotel and whom he was flirting with, a ride home but cannot go any further due to the possible presence of her father. She also goes with her father when he drives his truck for his job but his exhaustion leads to the truck crashing and his ending up in the hospital, with Trishna walking away with a broken arm. Hearing about this, Jay offers her a well-paying job at his father's(Roshan Seth) hotel near Jaipur which she accepts, even though Jay has one eye on Mumbai and Bollywood.

Movies can often serve as a portal into a different world, of which "Trishna" is a prime example, being set in Rajasthan, India which is depicted simultaneously as a country on the move and one with a foot in the traditions of the past, especially concerning the role of women, creating something of a yo-yo effect in the process.(I don't know if it was just the early accident but I felt nervous every time the camera went on the road.) It is to Michael Winterbottom's skills, including filming guerilla style, as a filmmaker that the movie never threatens to become merely a polemic. On the other hand, the movie is not that deep, and in hollowing out the source material of "Tess of the D'Urbervilles," he has pushed the background of the movie into the foreground.
Anoop K

Super Reviewer

August 7, 2012
The directorial finesse is quite evident, but it is the story that surprisingly disappoints, despite the fact that it is the retelling of a classic. Freida got her first role that requires some acting and she did justice to it. Oh, and this is the most "Indian" film among the recent array of non-Indian films set in India. And you won't see weird stuff like Indian slum-dwellers talking to each other in English.
November 28, 2013
The movie was pretty good, but I am not sure if I like Trishna herself because she seems to be a bit of a flake. It could be because of the cultural communication barrier that made her snap. This movie kind of pisses me off.
Hamee
February 10, 2013
I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie and I was pleasantly surprised. The cast was great and the story was very interesting. the ending was completely unexpected and brilliant.
July 23, 2012
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 emotion which makes it all rather perplexing. Michael Winterbottom directs Trishna (he tackled Hardy 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 in present-day India (it is still agriculture-heavy at times). This is the best piece of Trishna -- the update. As I watched, I wondered how something would be changed and/or interpreted ... and Winterbottom pretty-closely follows Hardy's storyline which is admirable. The problem I had with the film is that Tess/Trishna is a relative cipher ... I cannot really make her out. Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) is beautiful; but that is pretty much all she has to do here ... look lovely for the men that walk into and out of her life ... which gets Tess/Trishna into trouble (for any book readers out there know). The novel is a heavy piece of work ... but this film doesn't capture that and that partially falls on both Pinto and Winterbottom. I can tell that this is a Tess-adaptation; but it isn't enough ... if the emotion is missing this is NOT Tess of the D'Urbervilles. It just wishes that it were ...
May 23, 2012
Trishna is a love story based on the Thomas Hardy novel Tess of the D'urbervilles. I haven't read it or seen the Polanski adaptation with Nastassia Kinski. Freida Pinto is the Tess character this time round, and she is breathtakingly beautiful; so casting is not the problem The story is based on one of the most celebrated pieces of literature of all time, Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Ubervilles". To me, this film feels like a one-time experience; an interesting artistic vision capable of marking you and staying with you for some time. So, go ahead! Whenever you get the chance to see this film, I say "go for it!". It's something refreshingly unconventional that you might find yourself drawn by for the same reasons as me! I recommend seeing "Trishna" because of its ultimately shocking, thought-provoking nature. Come on! You have nothing to lose!
March 27, 2013
A modern day take on the rich-boy-meets-poor-girl theme. Visually and musically lavish. India was an excellent choice. The overall sound and imagery was able to lighten an otherwise somber plot. Pinto is an effective actor but while i sympathize with the characters, the movie failed to focus on each of the characters so I find it difficult to fully invest myself emotionally on them. It almost seems as if the tragedy stems entirely from rigid customs and social norms. Far from perfect, but worth the watch!
February 2, 2013
It takes a while to figure out what Winterbottom wants to say with what apears to be a conventional love story set in India, but soon the film proves to be more ironic, intense and emotionally draining than it seemed at first - with a very surprising third act.
July 13, 2012
A loose but nonetheless pretty faithful recasting of Hardy's penultimate tragedy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles
December 25, 2012
Such a bore. Frieda Pinto fails to engage and relies heavily on her looks to get by in the movie. The script goes from romantic to horribly dark in the blink of an eye. Very bizarre.
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

November 25, 2012
Ever since the success of Slumdog Millionaire, Freida Pinto has struggled to establish herself in roles of a similar calibre. While her talent and commitment are plain to see, she has very often ended up as the best thing in a bad production, such as Julian Schnabel's heavily flawed Miral. She finds herself in broadly the same position with Trishna, Michael Winterbottom's third attempt at adapting Thomas Hardy which fulfils on far too little of its great potential.

Winterbottom is no stranger to Hardy's work, but his attempts at adaptation vary greatly. His take on Jude the Obscure, Hardy's last and most controversial novel, was handsomely mounted but often boring, while The Claim (based loosely on The Mayor of Casterbridge) is immensely entertaining. Winterbottom got the idea for this take on Tess of the D'Urbervilles while shooting on location for his neo-noir Code 46. He was struck by the similarities between 21st-century India and 19th-century Wessex, and thought that such an unusual setting would bring something new to the story.

To be fair to Winterbottom, Trishna does get the beats of Hardy's story down pat. The opening sets up the difference in background between our two main characters and fated lovers. Trishna's humble existence, waiting tables, helping her father and living in the countryside with her family, is contrasted with Jay's affluent lifestyle in the relatively care-free and modern city. We are unsure of how much to trust Jay, wondering whether he is helping Trishna because he loves her or because he wants to sleep with her. His visits to temples and other ancient sites are intercut with him partying with mates or joyriding around in a jeep.

After Trishna finds work with Jay's father, she opens up to Jay bit by bit and becomes accepted by her new friends in the city. Jay is there to protect her, but he subsequently takes advantage of her, albeit not quite as literally as in Hardy's novel. Trishna spends the remainder of the film to-ing and fro-ing between her two lives, increasingly burdened by guilt, fear and shame. Eventually there is only one course of action she can take, though again this is altered slightly from Hardy's story.

Having got all the key plot points in place, Trishna makes an attempt to justify setting the story in India. And this, unfortunately, is where things start to come unstuck. The location seems to make sense in relation to the characters, and there are certain parallels that fans of the novel will pick up on of their own accord. But Winterbottom never adds anything weighty into the mix to justify the setting on top of the film being a decent transliteration.

One of the main themes of Tess of the D'Urbervilles is that of the countryside being exploited and eventually eclipsed by the vast progress and speed of city life. Hardy sought to demonstrate how industrial production and the growth in population were destroying traditional farming communities; this is usually conveyed through the breakdown of a family or, as in Far From The Madding Crowd, the insecurities of a female protagonist. Tess is a character caught between two worlds, being too gifted and ambitious for a life of simple rural pleasures, but too helpless and na´ve to make her way in the city. Her actions speak of panic and despair, and her death represents the triumph of urban Victorian society over the agrarian ones that preceded it.

With this in mind, it makes perfect sense to set a new adaptation in India. The country is undergoing a similar wave of rapid industrial and technological progress that made England once the fastest-developing nation on Earth. The gulf between rich and poor is widening, with the wealth generated in the rapidly expanding cities barely extending into the more traditional countryside. And despite the legacy of the British Empire in terms of bureaucratic and democratic governance, its infrastructure is still developing and taking shape.

Had Winterbottom applied himself, he could really have entrenched Hardy's story in India. He could have used the central romance to bring out the parallels between Hardy's Wessex and modern-day India, throwing in ideas about the erosion or persistence of caste, gender expectations for women and the role of religion among the young and upwardly mobile. But instead the story just sits awkwardly in India, like a Shakespeare play that has been set somewhere unusual as a gimmick. The parallels are there superficially, but Winterbottom either isn't able or isn't willing to let us get beneath the surface.

The next big problem, relating to this, is the editing. When Roman Polanski made his version of Tess in the late-1970s, he very consciously took his time, using the slow pace to convey the calmness of country life into which the destructive forces intrude. Winterbottom does the complete opposite, frequently jumping locations and cutting in the middle of scenes in an obvious bid to keep the plot moving. Rapid editing is not a bad thing in and of itself, and in certain cases like Moulin Rouge! it can be effective. But in this instance it is incredibly distracting and demonstrates a lack of faith in either the story or the director's chosen means of telling it.

Then we come on to the central performance. Polanski also benefitted in this department, getting Natassja Kinski at the very peak of her powers in what is to many the definitive portrayal of Tess. Freida Pinto is no Natassja Kinski - that's a hard act for anyone to follow - but she's also rather distant for a lot of the running time. She delivers her lines capably but her performance is all on one note until the final act. Riz Ahmed is the more charismatic and intriguing of the leads, successfully conveying a man standing on shaky ground, with plenty of insecurities, always in two minds and capable of great and jealous anger.

Pinto's performance is indicative of the overall tone. Even though it's half the length of Polanski's Tess, at 108 minutes the film feels flat and drags quite badly. With the exception of the climactic last ten minutes, the film feels like it is constantly going round in circles, with the characters not developing and the different events that occur seeming inconsequential. The central romance becomes like an episodic soap opera, a feeling exacerbated by the use of montage when Trishna is working in the hotels.

The main feeling that Trishna produces is frustration, because there are interesting ideas lurking in its make-up that would make for engaging drama. There are a number of moments involving Trishna herself which are genuinely tense or uncomfortable - being confronted in the street by four men only to be rescued by Jay, being given an abortion after Jay goes AWOL, or her eventual death by the same blade with which she murdered her lover. But while these moments are powerful in isolation, they all feel like isolated glimpses of what could and should be, bursting through a needlessly frothy and melodramatic surface.

Trishna is neither more nor less than an admirable failure. Relocating Hardy's story to India makes a great deal of sense, and the basic plot and character arcs are all capably replicated. But it ultimately fulfils on far too little of its potential, settling for superficial parallels over true substance and being mechanically unsound. Winterbottom has better films in him, and makes them quick enough to put this disappointment swiftly behind him. As for Freida Pinto, the search for a more deserving vehicle goes on.
November 8, 2012
doesn't hit its potential
July 18, 2012
The character developments were weak, which prevented the events of the movie from being impactful. The plot got a bit off track at times, which created such boredom. Instantly I could tell that the book would have been greater by far means.
Danijel J
August 19, 2012
If Trishna is ultimately a succes it's because of two things: 1. Frida Pinto being arguably the most photogenic young acctress around; 2. Director Michael Winterobottom heavily relying on that, playing on her strengths as much as he can. Wheather his British mind feels some sort of wounded colonial pride when working in former part of the machinery is beside the point, more so after "the Danny Boyle expedition". I have a strong feeling he decided to set Thomas Hardy's nineteenth - century novel Tess of the d'Urbevilles in modern day India only for an opportunity to work with her.

Coming out of his native island is not something new to Winterbottom. After the hopelessly naive Welcome to Sarajevo, where he proved that provocative naturalisam and political sharpness don't have to be a match made in heaven, he pays more attention to the filmmaking process this time around. For me, it is an artistic up (I'm referencing his fifteen years old feature because I haven't seen much of his work since).

I haven't read the novel nor did I see the Polanski 1979 version (though I came dangerously close few times) so bear in mind the freshness of this material to me. With the background of two different sides of India, Winterbottom introduces us with the story by showing couple of males in their early twenties, carelessly drifting through the countr in search for some adventure I guess. One of them is Jay, who has sort of a problem bugging him - he is a son of a wealthy hotel owner in Mumbai and now everybody expect from him to carry on with the tradition. He doesn't want to do that.

On their odyssey through the rural parts of the country, they encounter young beautiful girl named Trishna, who also has a problem. Her family is numerous, and they all need to have few meals the next day. It is mostly up to her to provide that, doing whatever job she does that particular day. This time, it's dancing. It happens to be her passion too. Jay instantly feels attraction. After finding out of her situation, he offers her job in one of the hotels. She accepts. Something is destined to happen between them. What follows is not what you'd expect based on the introduction.

Winterbottom doesn't work much on the character of Jay. He doesn't demand much work. There's nothing there. Director affirms this with the casting of stiff Riz Ahmed. It's enough to show him as oasis, too good to be truth from Trishna's perspective. She doesn't have a choice but to fall for him. In the first 40 minutes of film, he serves one purpose and one purpose only: to gaze. His obsesion with Trishna's beauty gives Winterbottom an excuse to let us do the same. We need to meet her in all of her vulnerability to be prepared for what is to come in the later parts of the film.

The style of Winterbottom chalenges you with the seeming indifference. There is a constant feeling that he is trying to find a positive side to everything he portrays, which, if truth, would come out as artificial and in contrast to the story. The poverty inside India, the ungrounded hedonisam and sometimes childish snobbery of the elitists from the big city can all be looked from a positive angle. That angle comes from wherever Trishna is sitting. Mumbai is like a different planet for her and she leads us through its dolce vitta as a passive observer. After all, were there little films which portrayed uneducated, beautiful and above all honest girls who by all acounts had no chance for succes ultimately prevaile? We sense this approach by the director, though we can always suspect where his story will finally settle. That combination brings us a picture of hypnotising power, which keeps us tied to the screen by pure combination of tone, sounds and appearance of leading actress. Because of that, you willingly throw at the back of your head the notion that the final outcome is, after all, evident a little too soon.

I have much respect when a director is able to make this kind of an approach work. It manages, in a minor way, to work beyond telling a story and give us something only film as an art form can do. It won't stay with you much; it probably won't stimulate the desire of a repeat viewing. But if you see it with the rest of the day still ahead of you, you just might fall asleep with it on your mind.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

August 14, 2012
After hanging out with his friends at a hotel in rural India, Jay(Riz Ahmed) gives Trishna(Freida Pinto), a cute worker at the hotel and whom he was flirting with, a ride home but cannot go any further due to the possible presence of her father. She also goes with her father when he drives his truck for his job but his exhaustion leads to the truck crashing and his ending up in the hospital, with Trishna walking away with a broken arm. Hearing about this, Jay offers her a well-paying job at his father's(Roshan Seth) hotel near Jaipur which she accepts, even though Jay has one eye on Mumbai and Bollywood.

Movies can often serve as a portal into a different world, of which "Trishna" is a prime example, being set in Rajasthan, India which is depicted simultaneously as a country on the move and one with a foot in the traditions of the past, especially concerning the role of women, creating something of a yo-yo effect in the process.(I don't know if it was just the early accident but I felt nervous every time the camera went on the road.) It is to Michael Winterbottom's skills, including filming guerilla style, as a filmmaker that the movie never threatens to become merely a polemic. On the other hand, the movie is not that deep, and in hollowing out the source material of "Tess of the D'Urbervilles," he has pushed the background of the movie into the foreground.
August 9, 2012
A great story by the same author and director of Kate Winslet in "Jude" and Sarah Polley in "The Claim," both of which I enjoyed. Frieda Pinto is gorgeous, but she doesn't have the acting range of those other actresses, so the film, engrossing for its first two-thirds, falls somewhat flat when poor Trishna begins to snap. The film is gorgeous to look at and the rest of the actors are very good, so it's far from a waste of time.
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