We've had belated releases this year already with About Elly reaching Irish screens two years after its original release. That was from Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation), however, and Chris Smith doesn't have that kind of draw so this is an odd one.
Venkatesh Chavan is an 18-year-old country boy living in Panaji, Goa. When not working in a hotel or selling plastic bags to tourists in the street with his buddy Jhangir (Badshah), Venkatesh likes to sit in a tree and gaze over a high wall into a garden that hosts a beautiful pool. Away from the chaos of the city, it's a paradise for 'Venky' who dreams of swimming in its cool blue water. Wangling a job helping owner Nana (Patekar) out around the garden, Venkatesh's head is turned by Nana's daughter Ayesha (Mohan).
Gentle is a word to describe this drama. Subtle too, as there is a natural pace to way the story unfolds. You can be as delicate as you like in describing The Pool but it can't change the fact that every minute of the 98 is felt, especially as everything starts to wrap up. Adapted from a short story by Randy Russell, The Pool was originally set in Iowa but director and documentarian Smith, who also adapted the script, oddly moves the location to southern India, where he taps into the easy-going vibe. This might explain his lack of rush in tying things up, as Smith is reluctant to move things along sharpish.
The slow pacing doesn't diminish the impact of the central romance, though. The illiterate Venkatesh's wooing of the bookish Ayesha becomes The Pool's centrepiece. He's such an amiable character that although it's hard to believe the little tales he entertains Nana and Ayesha with (he was once kidnapped by a New Zealander for three days but didn't tell the police because he doesn't trust them?) you want to believe him. His childlike innocence and his breezy nature (his arranged marriage is passed off with a shrug and a smile) are hard to hate.
Review by Gavin Burke | 12:23 | Friday 2nd November 2007 | Movie Review
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