Such A Long Journey Review

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The year is 1971. India is on the brink of war with Pakistan and, amid the spill of Bombay, the quietly ordered life of mild mannered, hard grafting bank clerk Gustad Noble (Seth) is about to turn totally pear-shaped. Chaos comes in the shape of an enigmatic letter from his estranged best friend Jimmy, asking him to deposit a large sum of cash (allegedly for the government’s secret services) into an illegal account.

Seemingly overnight, the fine fault-lines running through his family’s world open into a giant abyss. His teenage son does a runner rather than listening to his dad bang on incessantly about him attending technical college; his daughter falls sick with malaria; his wife falls under the spell of a local witch; and at work the fastidious little clerk is dragged deeper into a dangerous realm of vicious agents, deception and treachery.

Unafraid to tackle the moral and spiritual complexities which underpin Rohinton Mistry’s critically acclaimed novel, Gunnarsson’s film is a heartfelt, humane and comic account of one man’s attempt to grapple with forces that lie within and beyond his control. Sadly, Seth’s wholly convincing acting only accentuates the more caricatured performances in the line-up.

There’s a nice sense of the city’s multitudes, and striking explosions of colour offset the drabness of the streets but, as the tragedy takes over, there is tendency to mistake sentimentality for compassion and overbaked melodrama for simmering domestic drama.