The Waiting City (2010)
A couple eager to adopt a child find their relationship might not last long enough for them to get their new daughter in this drama from writer and director Claire McCarthy. Fiona (Radha Mitchell) and Ben (Joel Edgerton) are a couple from Australia -- she's a successful, self-starting lawyer while he's a relaxed, easy-going musician. Fiona and Ben want to adopt a child, and have traveled to India for what they imagine will be a quick and simple process. However, once they arrive in Calcutta they learn that little happens quickly in India, and for all the promises that has been made, completing the final stages of the adoption process is more complicated than they ever imagined. While Fiona stays in touch with her clients at home via the internet and deals with the legal red tape that's slowing down the adoption, Ben finds himself wandering the streets of Calcutta and adjusting to the rhythms of the city. The stress of the waiting period seems to reinforce the differences between Fiona and Ben, and tension begins to grow into anger and resentment; adding to Ben's dissatisfaction is his budding friendship with Scarlett (Isabel Lucas), an attractive fellow visitor who seems more compatible with his attitudes than his wife. The Waiting City was an official selection at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for The Waiting City
[Director Claire McCarthy] wrings true emotion out of simple moments that audiences will recognise.
Much of the joy of The Waiting City comes from the slow unraveling of the characters relationships, as well as in the gorgeous cinematography of Denson Baker.
The Waiting City is a beautifully crafted bitter-sweet exploration of a functional but near-broken relationship exposed by this perpetually functional but near-broken city.
Too often in The waiting City, there are moments that jar, misjudgments and bad calls in performance and structure that distract from the important process going on here.
Cue the parade of local colour -- women in saris, decaying buildings, sunsets over the Ganges -- and the inevitable transcendental experience.
Unfortunately, courtesy of vacuous scripting and stilted performances, The Waiting City ultimately does precious little to have you caring.
There's more atmosphere than plot in Claire McCarthy's film, but the atmosphere is very strong indeed.
This isn't the best Aussie film of the year but with strong performances and a distinct setting, it warrants your attention.
The Waiting City deals with themes of spiritualism, motherhood and the issue of international adoption, but is ultimately a film about intimate relationships and the stuff that binds them when all else falls away.
Driven by a tremendously honest script and beautiful lead performances, this film marks a major achievement and challenges its audience to consider its themes deeply.
2010 is shaping up to be yet another bumper year for Australian film, and The Waiting City should be a big part of that.
An ambitious debut by Claire McCarthy, in which she tries to find a cohesion between the earthly realities of the subject matter, the complexities of Indian life and the demanding emotional journey of a young married couple
Living up to its name, The Waiting City rewards patience. The film's initial unevenness is remedied by a captivating second half full of heart.
Audience Reviews for The Waiting City
The kind of movie that critics like, I guess. Pretty setting. Well done...just really, really slow. Good to see Radha Mitchell in something that isn't terrible, though.More
"You must act out of love, not desperation or need."
I've yet to see a movie set in India that wasn't a visual treat to watch, and The Waiting City definitely earns it's place on that list. The story, about an Australian couple come to Kolkata to adopt a child in the hopes that it will fix their strained relationship, is also interesting, even though I thought it stumbled into predictable, melodramatic territory at times. This is sort of an emotional coming of age story for the two main characters, both as individuals and a couple. The transition from who they are at the beginning to who they are at the end isn't exactly handled in the most organic way, but it is mostly believable.
The movie dabbles in ideas about faith and spirituality, as well, but in a very unfocused way.
I recommend The Waiting City to those interested in India, fans of Radha Mitchell or Joel Edgerton, and movie fans comfortable with subdued, personal storytelling that takes its time to get where it's going.
Upon arriving in Calcutta from their native Australia, Ben(Joel Edgerton), a musician, and Fiona Simmons(Radha Mitchell), a lawyer, are dismayed to find that her suitcase did not also make the journey. Happily, they find it a lot easier to find their driver, Krishna(Samrat Chakrabarti), and settle in for a wait at their upscale hotel. So before their appointment with their adoption case worker, Didi Chatterjee(Tanushree Shankar), Ben renews an acquaintance with Scarlett(Isabel Lucas), an old backpacking friend, while Fiona manages a case from afar.
On the surface, "The Waiting City" has more than its share of culture clash cliches. However, the movie nicely slows its story down to match the more leisurely rhythms of India which it does a very good of photographing. Fine performances and a darker and nuanced mood definitely work in the movie's favor. It should still be pointed out that having or adopting a baby is not a cure all for a floundering relationship, as it puts much too strain on the poor kid. In any case, it is hard to imagine Ben and Fiona ever having been at the same place in their lives.
And us, The Waiting Audience. A lot of nothing happens storywise from the time an Australian couple arrives in India to claim the child they adopted. As delays occur, the couple begins to doubt their commitment to a family and to each other.
The one good reason to watch this is to get a very good sense of modern life in India, filmed entirely on location in & around Calcutta. Dizzying street activity and peculiar (to Western eyes) ceremonies are fascinating to watch, including a wedding and a funeral in which the dead body is sent downriver on a raft - the same river people bathe and wash clothes in. Ick. With one of the most populous countries in the world, I'm afraid there is too much proximity for this traveler.
I guess another reason to watch is why I did, because it stars Radha Mitchell. She won Best Actress at the Antipodes Film Festival in St. Tropez for this role; she's good as a work-obsessed lawyer, but really nothing out of the ordinary from her usual strong work. Her name Radha-Rani derives from Indian culture as her model mother was enamored with the country during the 1960s, so I imagine Radha had great interest in experiencing the country for herself. That's a great opportunity for her but not a reason for you to watch.
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