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Review: Trishna

Tess of the D'Urbervilles set in present-day India
By PETER KEOUGH  |  July 17, 2012
2.5 2.5 Stars

If nothing else, Michael Winterbottom's updating of Tess of the D'Urbervilles to present-day India proves that Thomas Hardy will depress you no matter what the setting. When her father is disabled in an accident, Trishna (Freida Pinto), a village girl, accepts a job from Jay (Riz Ahmed), the scion of a wealthy hotelier. Jay's seeming kindness inevitably deteriorates into a caddishness that combines the negative traits of both Angel Clare and Alec d'Urberville from the original novel, and Trishna does what she must in a cruel, patriarchal society. Some segues into Bollywood provide contrast with the Biblical starkness of the tale, which Winterbottom heightens with lush imagery and a melancholy soundtrack. But the performers seem apathetic about their fates, and the tragedy unfolds with a perfunctory arbitrariness. The third of Winterbottom's Hardy adaptations, it surpasses The Claim (2000) but falls short of the masterful Jude (1996).

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