Is modern India as repressive as Victorian England? That's what Michael Winterbottom suggests in his latest, Trishna; how else could he locate Tess of the d'Urbervilles there and make the fit between story and setting seem so natural? Freida Pinto stars as the title character, and she's great, starting off as a bashful and kind country girl who slowly opens herself up to the possibilities of the big city, only to be shut down again by circumstance—the double standards and rigid moral codes of the countryside. Winterbottom shows the timelessness of Hardy's melodramatic plots about social strictures and sexual exploitation, depicting an India of polarized classes—one inhabiting a fantasy world of luxury, the other a hardscrabble reality—where fusty traditions butt heads with modernity's looser values. The movie breathes life into Hardy's timeless themes with fresh settings.
Keep reading this dispatch from the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival at The L Magazine