Before The Rains

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A English spice baron settles in South India during the waning years of the Raj


Merchant Ivory may have only opted for a ‘presented by’ credit on Santosh Sivan’s first English-language film, but Before The Rains feels like it could have been their next production (melodrama, India, 1930s? Check…). Adapting Iranian short Red Roofs, it sees Linus Roach build a trade-road to disaster after a dalliance with a local girl. Sivan was also cinematographer on this tale of culture clashes, divided loyalties and forbidden love. He does a fine job, but it’s a shame he didn’t have a bigger canvas: this lacks the Lean-esque scope to match its emotional scale. Still, if the characters sometimes feel roughly drawn and over-pitched, the casting, particularly of the leads (Jennifer Ehle also stars), is spot on.

While the characters sometimes feel roughly drawn, the casting is spot on.