Sunday, July 17, 2005

An Indian Film in Ebert's List

Roger Ebert, in his fortnightly column on great movies, discusses Santosh Sivan's "The Terrorist" this week. The movie is the first Tamil film to make it to Ebert's list and only the fourth Indian movie to do so, after Satyajit Ray's masterful Apu trilogy. Ebert's review provides a nice analysis of the film's strengths. (However, his side-commentary on terrorism and suicide bombing is oversimplified and not entirely logical.)

When I first saw the film three or four years ago, I was struck both by its overwhelmingly beautiful cinematography and by its subdued, neutral intellectual style that let the viewers navigate their way without being biased by a prescriptive moral stance. On the flip side, Sivan tends to crank up the artsiness quotient one time too many with fancy camera work and deliberately long cuts. The sin is easily forgiven, however, in a film which magnificently avoids the pitfalls of cheap melodrama that has laid low many a good Indian movie.

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