The luminous Freida Pinto first found fame in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and quickly became an auteur favourite, anchoring Julian Schnabel’s Miral and quickening pulses in Woody Allen’s YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER. But no role has demanded more of her than TRISHNA. Complex, spontaneous, pure-hearted and tragic, her character in Michael Winterbottom’s new film is a signature Indian woman. She is also Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
Setting Hardy’s novel against the backdrop of today’s India was a master stroke that allows Winterbottom to revitalize a groundbreaking work of Victorian fiction for a new audience. At the same time, he explores the surging social currents of a vast and rapidly changing nation through the narrative of one village woman.
Trishna (Pinto) lives with her family in a village in Rajasthan, India’s largest state. As the eldest daughter, she works in a nearby resort to help pay the bills. Jay (Riz Ahmed) is the wealthy son of a property developer. When he takes up managing a resort at his father’s request, he meets Trishna at a dance and their fates cross. Jay finds every opportunity to win Trishna’s affection, and she accepts his efforts with shy curiosity. But when the two move to Mumbai and become a couple, Jay’s deep family bonds threaten the young lovers’ bliss.
Shot with Winterbottom’s typically agile camera in the picturesque expanse of Jaipur and the modern bustle of Mumbai, Trishna is drenched in beauty — but beauty is only one of its interests. This is a powerful look at the tension between ancient privilege and modern equality, between the codes of urban and rural life, and ultimately between men and women. Rooted in enchanting visual rhythms and aided by an original score from Shigeru Umebayashi (IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE), TRISHNA is a hymn to both the glory and the tragedy that comes with beauty.--Cameron Bailey