Before the Rains
Inspired by Israeli short Red Roofs, scripted by the late American Cathy Rabin (to whom the film is dedicated), directed and photographed by Bollywood filmmaker Santosh Sivan, starring Brit Linus Roache, yank Jennifer Ehle and Indians Nandita Das and Rahul Bose, and released under the Merchant Ivory banner, Before the Rains is a truly international production. Set in 1930s southern India, and anticipating the end of the Raj less than 20 years later, it’s a metaphor-laden drama that uses a tale of doomed inter-racial romance to address the inherent failings of British colonialism.
Roache plays an idealistic spice farmer who has an ill-advised affair with his housemaid (Das), a local girl who’s married to a man in the nearby village. When the inevitable happens and the pair are discovered, a tragic chain of events is set in motion.
Sivan (who’s best known as the director of Tamil language feature The Terrorist and as cinematographer on Gurinder Chadha’s Bride & Prejudice) has loaded the film with visual metaphors that complement the figurative storyline, the most striking of which is the mountain road that Roache’s altruistic but ignorant colonial constructs and scars the beautiful landscape with. These, along with the political backdrop, make for a richer period drama than most.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 1 Aug.