Film critic Andrew Sarris, who passed away this year, entrenched the French auteur theory in the United States. Criticism, it holds, is primarily an analysis of the director, the “author” of each work. Few contemporary directors are as good of a case study for auteur theory as Michael Winterbottom, whose films are unbound by commercial appeal or heavy financial backing; what you get is a purely distilled directorial vision. His work is a mixed bag, but each movie’s shortcomings, strangely enough, are what make him so interesting. Winterbottom’s latest is Trishna, an adaptation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles set in India and starring Freida Pinto from Slumdog Millionaire. It’s modern chronologically, but the thematic problems in Thomas Hardy’s 19th-century novel resonate today in a rapidly developing India. As with all things Winterbottom, it comes up a little short, but the highs—including Pinto and the cinematography—are breathtaking.
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Producer: Melissa Parmenter, Michael Winterbottom, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Shail Shah and Andrew Eaton
Cast: Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed, Roshan Seth, Harish Khanna, Aakash Dahiya, Neet Mohan, Kalki Koechlin and Anurag Kashyap