Tonight double-feature was a pair of adaptations that couldn’t have been much different, both because of their subjects and because of their general quality.
Trishna is a modernization of Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles, set in modern India. The central and titular character, played by Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto, is modelled after Hardy’s protagonist and her story is mostly that of Tess.
What may have worked as a century-old book, however, does not work for this film. Trishna ends up being an endurance challenge, of sorts, to see if the audience can sit through each and every cruel and unfair injustice Trishna is subjected to or made to bear witness of, from murder to suicide to broken limbs to kidnapping to countless rapes.
If the movie went somewhere with its story, had a moral beyond general misanthropy, or even was nice to look at, it would have been palatable. As it is, though, Trishna is an unenjoyable and unrewarding slog.
Off the heels of the Swedish masterpiece The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Headhunters is another thrilling adaptation of a Scandinavian thriller. It manages to surpass its predecessor, in fact.
It is rare to see a thriller with this many great plot twists. The film is 90 per cent red herrings, double-crosses, bait-and-switches, and fake endings. After about halfway through, it becomes pointless to even try and predict when and how they’ll come, and easier to just sit back and let the masterful storytelling unfold.
Admittedly, Headhunters is quite bloody by the end of it. Good comparisons would be The Departed or The Town; if those films weren’t too much to watch, Headhunters shouldn’t be, either.
Even for the squeamish, though, Headhunters is a phenomenal cat-and-mouse game that people should go out of their way to see. The tension it builds is practically palpable at times, and the clever plot is always four or five steps ahead of the audience. There simply hasn’t been a thriller this well-plotted and -executed in years.
Marecages (Wetlands), Take This Waltz, and Luc Besson’s The Lady are showing tomorrow, on Day 9 of the 2012 AGH BMO World Film Festival.