Soggy cin­ema

BE­FORE THE RAINS Di­rected by San­tosh Si­van. Star­ring Li­nus Roache, Rahul Bose, Nan­dita Das, Lal Paul, Jen­nifer Ehle, Leopold Bene­dict

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

Club, IFI, Dublin, 98 min ‘ONE must not put a loaded ri­fle on the stage if no one is think­ing of fir­ing it,” Chekhov fa­mously wrote to a friend. Be­fore the Rains, a steamy Mer­chant Ivory pro­duc­tion set in the dy­ing days of the Raj, is cer­tainly a film that plays by the rules. When, there­fore, Li­nus Roache’s Bri­tish landowner hands a re­volver to his In­dian pro­tege (Rahul Bose), we can be pretty sure that it will be dis­charged be­fore the cred­its roll.

In­deed, ev­ery as­pect of the film’s some­what clunky open­ing act points to­wards a loom­ing catas­tro­phe. Shortly af­ter the in­ci­dent with the hand­gun, Roache’s mem­sahib (Jen­nifer Ehle) ar­rives from the home coun­try and he finds him­self com­pelled to dump the lo­cal wo­man (Nan­dita Das) with whom he has been hav­ing an af­fair. A cri­sis re­sults that en­gulfs the whole vil­lage and causes Bose’s con­flicted fac­to­tum to chose be­tween the colonis­ers and the grow­ing in­de­pen­dence move­ment.

Di­rected by San­tosh Si­van, whose The Ter­ror­ist turned heads in 1999, Be­fore the Rains drips with balmy good in­ten­tions. Roache has the right sort of face for tragedy and Bose makes some­thing be­liev­able of his em­blem­atic per­sonal dilemma. This is, how­ever, the type of mid-bud­get pro­duc­tion in which the clothes all look too crisply un­worn and the blood looks too much like ketchup.

Work­ing hard with di­a­logue that has the func­tional qual­ity you’d ex­pect to find in a le­gal con­tract, the strong cast does in­ject some en­ergy into pro­ceed­ings, but Be­fore the Rains never quite rises above the level of a mod­estly am­bi­tious TV movie. You would be as well to wait for the DVD.

The cad and the kept wo­man: Roache and Das

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