Tess of the D’Urbervilles is one of English literature’s most famous novels as well as Tess being one the greatest heroines.
This week sees Michael Winterbottom remake this classic tale of love and tragedy set across modern day rural Rajasthan and Mumbai.
Trishna (Pinto) meets a wealthy young British businessman, Jay Singh (Ahmed), who has come to India to work in his father’s hotel business. After an accident destroys her father’s Jeep, Trishna goes to work for Jay, and they fall in love.
But despite their feelings for each other, their relationship must remain a secret due to the conflicting pressures of a rural society which is changing rapidly through industrialisation, urbanisation, and above all, education.
Their problems seem to be solved when Jay takes Trishna to an exciting new world or dance, vibrant life and possibilities - Mumbai. But Trishna harbours a dark secret that threatens the very heart of their love affair, and inequalities remain at the centre of their relationship that will lead her to question Jay’s intentions towards her.
The main problem with Trishna is it fails to evoke any of the emotions that Thomas Hardy’s novel is so famous for - sadly the tragic arc that runs through the movie is just so ineffective.
Bearing that in mind the climax of the movie doesn’t quite pack the emotional punch that you would expect it to as the central story really does run out of steam.
And that is mainly because the central actors Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed are just not accomplished enough to carry off and explore fully the darker themes and emotions in the movie.
This is a huge shame as these darker themes of sexual exploitation and the degrading of women really does take this story to a whole other level.
Trishna is just a little bit too passive for my liking and Jay is not menacing enough to make you believe that Trishna is trapped and can not just walk away when ever she likes, which somewhat detracts from the tension.
In true Winterbottom style the director has taken full advantage of the glorious locations and he really has made the most of them, bringing the sights, sounds and tastes of India to the big screen.
The visuals are supported by a superb score from Shigeru Umebayashi and Bollywood composer Amit Trivedi, the music just brings the whole thing to life.
Winterbottom should be applauded for his new spin on this well known story and the themes of this movie definitely do bring this tale into the 21st century.
But the acting doesn’t match the script and you do have wonder what kind of movie this would have been in with a more experienced cast on board.
Trishna is out now
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw