A Passage to India (1984)


Starring: Judy Davis, Victor Banerjee, Peggy Ashcroft, James Fox, Nigel Havers, Alec Guinness

Director: David Lean (his final film)

Summary: A criminal accusation threatens British-Indian colonial relations

Other Nominations: Director, Actress (Davis), Supporting Actress (Ashcroft)*, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score*, Sound Mixing, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing

For being the last film of the great director David Lean, it’s…fairly underwhelming. The sets, locations, costumes and overall look of the movie are strong; the score that is there is as good as to be expected considering it’s from Maurice Jarre, even there’s not a lot of it; and I liked some of the performances, mainly Banerjee and Ashcroft’s. Everything else though was pretty mediocre though. The story takes way too long to get in gear-it takes an hour and a half for there to be something that moves the plot in a real direction versus just establishing the setting and characters. Some of the characters have their moments (again, mainly Banerjee’s and Ashcroft’s), but others were fairly dull given their significance (Davis’). While Banerjee’s performance and character are the highlight, the last 15 minutes of the film really muck up a lot: we get a total character change that feels very unnatural and rushed, and kind of sets an odd coda to the whole movie. Whatever message or themes were there are muddled and the way the film is trying to make the audience feel about everything seems wrongheaded and detracts from the previous 2 and a half hours.

Overall: Disappointing farewell from a legendary director. While the visual, score and a few performances are good, the movie takes too long to get somewhere and the ending feels rushed and unsatisfying.

Rating: C


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