Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
United Kingdom, 1983. Merchant Ivory Productions. Screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, based on her novel. Cinematography by Walter Lassally. Produced by Ismail Merchant. Music by Richard Robbins. Production Design by Wilfred Shingleton. Costume Design by Barbara Lane. Film Editing by Humphrey Dixon.
Not only is it intoxicating in its locales, it also provides you with two stories for the price of one: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s fascinating double narrative concerns a modern-day traveller (Julie Christie) who is in India looking to find out more about her great-aunt who lived there during Britain’s colonial occupation, and whose life story always had more than a hint of mystery to it. Greta Scacchi plays the woman in question in flashbacks which run simultaneously with Christie’s personal voyage of discovery. The more Christie learns about Scacchi, the more it reveals about India’s influence on herself as well. The period sections are recreated with the precision and depth associated with the team of Merchant Ivory, while both stories are riveting in their complexity and character development.
Cannes Film Festival: In Competition