Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
France, 1989. AFC, Sara Films, Ciné Cinq, Christian Bourgois Productions, Sofinergie 1, Centre National de la Cinématographie. Adaptation and dialogue by Alain Corneau, Louis Gardel, based on the novel by Antonio Tabucchi. Cinematography by Yves Angelo. Produced by Maurice Bernart. Production Design by Partho Sen-Gupta. Costume Design by Chandrakant Waradkar. Film Editing by Thierry Derocles. Toronto International Film Festival 1989.
Jean-Hugues Anglade shows up in 1980s Bombay to do some research on a script he is writing but, of greater importance, to find an old friend who disappeared a year earlier under mysterious circumstances. His journey takes him from a hotel in the city’s red light district to a luxury hotel in Goa, along the way having lengthy conversations with the various people he meets who shed light on the missing person but also provide him with matters to contemplate. This adaptation of the novel by Antonio Tabucchi is a beautifully shot, extremely subtle work that is intelligent, thoughtful and hopelessly dry. The underplayed scenes of conversation have all the quiet detail of a good read, sometimes to a monotonous degree, and as a result it will only find success with a portion of its audience. That said, there are sequences that stand out, particularly a wonderfully odd scene with a fortune teller while on the road between destinations, and a gorgeous, lively interaction with the lovely Clémentine Célarié in the film’s conclusion.