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Before the Rains – everything you love in a book – on screen

July 27, 2008 at 10:56 am

I promise not to become a movie critic, but in this case I can’t help myself.

If I were, one of my criteria for critiquing movies, not dissimilar to my book criticism,  would be whether or not I was aware of my body in the theatre. It would range from extreme twitching, observing people around me and thrashing about in my seat meant –  bad movie. And, the disappearance of my body along with time and space would constitute good movie side effects, or lack thereof.

Sure, it’s subjective, but isn’t all criticism?

My body disappeared into the screen last night at the Regal Cinema in Delray Beach. In my unofficial opinion, BEFORE THE RAINS.  is an artistic masterpiece.

When I see “Merchant Ivory Productions” in the credits on the silver screen, I have high expectations for visuals. Think A Room With a View, The Remains of the Day, Jefferson in Paris… Always lush, majestic cinematography, in the true sense of a “moving picture.”

BEFORE THE RAINS didn’t disappoint me in the cinematic capacity but it happily drew me into a great story, good enough to curl up with and read in a novel. I checked to see if it was a book adaptation but, from what I could find, the movie is based on a screenplay by Cathy Rabin. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Without giving too much of the plot away, BEFORE THE RAINS is the story of a man caught between worlds during the end of colonialism in 1930’s India. I perceived his struggle to represent three worlds: loyalty to his British employer, loyalty to his village,  and the prospect of joining his former head master in the cause of Indian independence.

All this inner turmoil goes on for T.K. (Rahul Bose) in the tangle of someone else’s illicit romance. Suffice it to say that the English tea plantation owner (Linus Roache) was tilling fields that were out of bounds. When the alluring Sajani appeared (Nandita Das) it’s eary to understand why.

On goes the story with some predictable twists and turns but the outcome is somewhat surprising. I was holding my breath during the finale but walked out of the theatre intact. What was emotionally stirring did not turn out to be depressing. 

I much prefer to be dramatically affected by a movie without driving home in despair. BEFORE THE RAINS left me slightly winded by the waves of feeling I experienced, but not devastated. The movie endures in a good way. 

Another movie measure for me is whether or not a movie stays with me as I leave the theatre. And, if it lasts even longer, all the better. BEFORE THE RAINS did that for me. 

Apparently, I’m not alone. BEFORE THE RAINS was the 2008 winner of the Worldfest Film Festival. 

Go see it. Take a break from reading (did I really say that?) and delight all of your senses. It might just inspire you to write YOUR award-winning novel!

p.s. I swear, they JUST put up a website a second ago! What did I find there? A comment by Deepak Chopra. I consider myself in the company of another esteemed non-movie reviewer)

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