Hardy’s clas­sic re- caste

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH Now show­ing State Cinema

UN­CON­VEN­TIONAL as he is pro­lific, Bri­tish film­maker Michael Win­ter­bot­tom stays true to form here, ex­per­i­ment­ing on the fly with what­ever is at hand.

You have to ad­mire the guy’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to keep think­ing out­side the square, es­pe­cially once you fac­tor in the rad­i­cally re­shaped source ma­te­rial he’s work­ing with.

Re­lo­cat­ing the clas­sic Thomas Hardy novel Tess of the d’ur­bervilles from ye olde Eng­land to present- day In­dia turns out to be an idea so left- field that it lands right where it should.

Purists may turn up their nose at the thought, but very lit­tle of the book’s deep musings on class and gen­der is­sues have been lost in the tran­si­tion of set­ting and era.

Freida Pinto ( Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire) plays the ti­tle role, a poor young girl from the prov­inces en­tan­gled in a doomed re­la­tion­ship with a well- to- do city boy ( Four Lions’ Riz Ahmed).

Like all Hardy tales, there are im­pos­ingly bleak stretches of mal­ady and mis­for­tune to be nav­i­gated. Un­like any Hardy movie adap­ta­tion, there is also a Bollywood mu­si­cal in­ter­lude.

While Pinto and Ahmed are not the most gifted of ac­tors, their lack of screen chem­istry fits their eter­nally dis­con­nected char­ac­ters cu­ri­ously well.

A slightly flawed, but al­ways fas­ci­nat­ing drama, it boasts stun­ning cin­e­matog­ra­phy from Win­ter­bot­tom’s ever- re­li­able off­sider Mar­cel Zyskind to fur­ther seal the deal.

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