Before the Rains

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/07/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Given the racy subject matter, this is an oddly chaste and ultimately underwhelming affair, but it's beautifully shot and the performances ensure that it remains watchable.

What's it all about?
Directed by Santosh Sivan, Before the Rains is set in 1930s colonial India and stars Linus Roache as Henry Moores, a spice grower who's desperate to finish building an important road before Monsoon season begins. Henry is also having a passionate affair with his young housekeeper, Sanjani (Nandita Das), which he has to hide from the local villagers because of her arranged marriage to the vicious Rajat (Lal Paul).

However, Henry's bliss is short-lived, first because his wife Laura (Jennifer Ehle, lovely as ever) arrives from England with their young son in tow, and secondly because Rajat's discovery of Sanjani's affair puts everyone's lives in danger. Seeking refuge, Sanjani turns to Henry for help, but he's desperate to hide the affair from Laura, so he asks his right-hand man, T.K. (Rahul Bose) to help Sanjani get to safety, with disastrous results.

The Good
A lush melodrama with a hint of Merchant-Ivory, Before the Rains is beautifully shot throughout and makes strong use of its stunning scenery. The performances are good too, particularly the central trio of Roache, Bose and Das, although Ehle is rather wasted as Laura.

The Bad
This is the sort of film where one character gives another a gun as a present in the second scene, so you pretty much know where it's going right from the start. Also, given the scandalous subject matter, it's a remarkably chaste affair - sex scenes take place behind rocks, bathtub scenes involve too much foam and even the shootings and beatings occur offscreen.

In addition, several promising subplots go undeveloped (a growing anti-colonial protest movement, a looming workers' strike) and the script can't quite draw out the allegorical Britain's-relationship-with-India parallels it's so clearly striving for.

Worth seeing?
Before The Rains is never less than watchable, but it never really engages on an emotional level and a better director might have spiced things up a bit.

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Before the Rains
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Content updated: 22/11/2019 10:31

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