Claire McCarthy?s newest film, ?The Waiting City? is breakthrough in many ways. Not only is it the first Australian film to be completely filmed in India, but it is her breakthrough film as a director. This is McCarthy?s fourth film, but is definitely her most successful to date. Not to mention it made its debut at the inaugural Toronto International Film Festival last September. The film has many good points, but even though it can be extremely confronting and emotional at times, it still lacks the intensity that it should in parts. Fiona (Radha Mitchell) and Ben Simmons (Joel Edgerton) touch down in Calcutta and are immediately culture shocked by the country in which they have arrived in to pick up their adopted daughter. One setback turns into another as they are forced to wait longer than they expected to meet their new child and bring her home. As they wait, they feel the power of their new daughters homeland as it pulls them in and exposes Fiona and Ben?s flaws in themselves and in their relationship.
?The Waiting City? is one of those rare films which has the ability to make you feel like you really are there experiencing it all with the characters. Even without being to India, you can smell the same things they do, feel the humidity and see things the same way Fiona and Ben do. The star of this film is really India. It is on show in ?The Waiting City? and one can truly believe how the main characters can get so caught up in its mystery and how they start to feel like they are as one with the country. This film is visually stunning and the visuals make it extremely memorable. The clash of cultures is perfectly represented and it is intriguing as well as being humorous at times. The cinematography is very well done as it again captures the essence of Calcutta and its surrounds by the choice of camera angles and modes of filming.
The acting is good, but unfortunately it is the one part of the film that is a let down. Both Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton are very good actors in their own right, and do have chemistry on screen, but it almost feels as though the roles were a bit too easy for them to play. The roles they play are subtle, but they are too subtle in the most complex situations. The emotion of the situations they find themselves in, except for one main event, does not grab the audience in the way it should. Edgerton is the better of the two in this film as he is the one who gives more in his role.This doesn?t mean that Mitchell did a bad job, but it wasn?t as strong a performance as one would expect from such a role as this. Samrat Chakrabarti, who plays the Simmons? personal chauffer, Krishna, does do a great job with the role he is given and is a joy to watch on screen. Maybe McCarthy focused more on the visuals in the film and how India is represented, rather than how far the actors could have been pushed to reach the heights their roles should have.
?The Waiting City? is really an aesthetically pleasing film. If anything, it will make you want to pack your bags and go to this beautiful place to enjoy the simpler things in life and to find yourself, if you feel that you need to be found. The key to this film being a success would have been to focus more on the raw emotion of the difficult and complicated situations presented. Therefore, this film will be remembered more as a great tourism product for India rather than the all round great film it could have been.