February 28, 2016

Fitoor doesn’t live up to expectations; Brooklyn is a quiet, wonderful pleasure


Fitoor **

Dir:  Abhishek Kapoor

Starring: Aditya Roy Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Lara Dutta, Aditi Rao Hyderi, Kunaal Khyaan, Rahul Bhatt, Tunisha Sharma

I had, ahem, great expectations from Fitoor. Adapted from perhaps Charles Dickens’ greatest novel, directed by Abhishek Kapoor, the man behind the terrific Kai Po Che, and featuring four lovely actresses, I was looking forward to watching the movie. And the first half works well enough with Abhishek Kapoor able to create a dreamily atmospheric Kashmir in which the young Noor finds himself pulled into the orbit of the mysterious Begum and her alluring yet sometimes cruel daughter, Firdaus. As he grows older, Noor aims to make something of himself and worthy of Firdaus (with the help of a mysterious benefactor) and makes something of a name for himself in the art world (here the movie borrows from the Ethan Hawke / Gwyneth Paltrow version of Great Expectations), the girl of his dreams comes back into his life. But as the romance gets more complicated and revelations unfold, Fitoor loses its way by sidestepping Dickens’ social commentary and Noor’s moral failings and softening Begum’s cruelty. Even the backdrop of Kashmir serves no particular purpose (unlike Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider) and the Noor/Firdaus romance ultimately feels hollow.

Performance wise, Tabu commands your attention as usual, Katrina is fetching and this time her often blank demeanour works for the inscrutable Firdaus, Aditi Rao works surprisingly well as the young Begum, and it’s always nice to see Lara Dutta (she plays an art dealer here) but the often shirtless Aditya Roy Kapoor still seems to be suffering from an Aashiqui 2 hangover and there’s no particular subtlety to his performance. Ajay Devgn also appears in an important cameo.

Ultimately, Fitoor is a let-down. If you really want to see a brilliant adaptation of Great Expectations then see David Lean’s classic 1946 version.

Cut to chase: Loses the plot in the second half.


Brooklyn **** ½

Dir: John Crowley

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, James Broadbent, Julie Walters,
Domhnall Gleeson


Saoirse Ronan delivers a beautifully understated performance (my favourite of the year) as Eilis (pronounced Ay-Lish), a young Irish girl who moves to America, specifically Brooklyn, in the 1950s.  The movie beautifully captures the experience of most immigrants - the heartache of memory and loss of all that is left behind (the hardship of the crossing encapsulated and symbolised in Eilis’ arduous journey across a roiling Atlantic ocean) but counterbalances it with the anticipation and optimism of (self) discovery and the hope of a better future. This struggle for Eilis’ soul is brought to a head when a tragedy takes Eilis back to her native Ireland and suddenly there appear to be more options available to her than when she had left. What choices will she make or will life choose for her?

Adapted from Colm Toibin’ novel by Nick Hornby, knowingly directed by John Crowley, and powered by Ronan’s soulful performance (her eyes speak volumes), this is a lovely, gently moving film. Nominated for 3 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress,  and Best Adapted Screenplay and winner of the BAFTA for Best British Film.

Cut to chase: Understated, melancholic, touching, hopeful, bittersweet. Don’t miss it.

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