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Stars: Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed, Roshan Seth, Meeta Vasisht, Harish Khanna

Director: Michael Winterbottom

For my money, Michael Winterbottom has laid rather more cinematic curate’s eggs than a bishop’s hen. For every worthwhile effort like The Killer Inside Me and Jude there have been (to exploit the avian analogy even further), he has inflicted fully-stuffed turkeys like Code 46, Nine Songs and A Cock and Bull Story on luckless cinemagoers.

Trishna falls within the critical range of curate’s egg.

To Winterbottom’s credit, the Indian locations are superb and excellently chosen and stunningly well photographed by Marcel Zyskind. Lacking another inspiration, perhaps, Winterbottom returns once more to Thomas Hardy whom he raided for Jude and The Claim - and updates Tess of the d’Urbervilles), setting his now modern-day story in rural Rajistan and Mumbai.

Poor man’s daughter Pinto falls for wealthy British businessman Ahmed who is working in India in his father’s hotel (a rather more luxurious hostelry than The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) when she goes to work for him in Mumbai. Their very different backgrounds means their romance must remain secret – until the tragic, probably inevitable, dénouement…

Winterbottom scores as writer and director until the final melodramatic climax, which sadly fails to come off effectively. To their credit, Pinto and Ahmed do well enough and Seth is good fun in a camped up cameo role. But in the final analysis, it’s the cinematography and locations, along with an evocative score, that make the most impact.

For the record 14 producers (including Winterbottom) are credited: the credited cast only numbers eight. Make of that what you will.

(British moviegoers can take what comfort they can in the knowledge they have already paid for the film with their lottery money).

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Artificial Eye. Colour.
113 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 09 Mar 2012