Trishna (★★★ Empire review)

TrishnaSquareThe problem with Roman Polanski’s adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbevilles was its slavish fealty to the novel. In transplanting the heroine’s tragic odyssey from 19th century Wessex to present day India, Winterbottom (who previously adapted Hardy’s Jude the Obscure) has no such issues, playing fast and loose with the events, characters and structure of the great novel, while attempting to distil its essence. It’s a thrilling conceit (though an Arabian transfer might have proved more apposite), one whose potential might have been realised by a more disciplined director. Alas, Winterbottom’s loose style, while making for some potent India-verité scenes, does not always complement the vertiginous depths of Hardy’s tragic tale, and the decision to let the actors improvise most of their dialogue was a disaster, not least due to the unfortunate blankness of Pinto’s beautiful face. ★★★

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