Gorgeously shot and acted with aching tragic truthfulness, Michael Winterbottom’s “Trishna” is a romance of depth and feeling.
Part of that, of course, is the source material; Winterbottom, who also wrote the script, has transposed Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” to modern India, where class differences still hold the kind of sway they did in Hardy’s time in England.
But Winterbottom, one of most adventurous and varied directors working today, takes it further. He captures the world of these characters and the contrasts they represent. The tragedy is multilayered, operating on both personal and more macro levels in this story.
Freida Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”) plays the title character, Trishna, who still lives at home in a small Indian village. But she is forced to go to work as a hotel maid when her father, who supports the family with his delivery business, is injured in an accident.
At the luxury hotel where she finds a job, Trishna is one of many young women cleaning rooms and delivering meals. But then she captures the attention of Jay (Riz Ahmed), who runs the hotel for his father back in England. Shy and reserved, Trishna is like catnip to the wealthy young playboy, who genuinely falls for her when she initially plays hard to get. Well, hard to get implies intent; she is genuinely demure but, to him, it reads the other way.
But his father – a wealthy hotel magnate – disapproves and pulls him away. Trishna, now pregnant, goes home, has an abortion, then goes to work for an uncle in slave-like conditions.
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