dir Vic Sarin
scr Vic Sarin, Patricia Finn
with Jimi Mistry, Kristin Kreuk, Neve Campbell, Madhur Jaffrey, Irrfan Khan, John Light, Aarya Babbar, Lushin Dubey, Chenier Hundal, Jesse Moss, Jaden Rain, Vinay Pathak
release Can 2.Feb.07, US Aug.07 riff, UK 12.Sep.08
07/Canada 1h56
Flower power: Kreuk and Mistry

mistry kreuk campbell
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Partition Set in the years surrounding independence in India, this slightly melodramatic film has a strong emotional kick that manages to bring both the romance and the religious-political situation vividly to life.

In the early 1940s, Sikh soldier Gian (Mistry) heads to the front with two English colleagues (Light and Moss). Five years later, Gian returns a broken man, refusing to join his brother (Khan) in terrorising Muslims as they migrate to newly created Pakistan. Instead, he rescues a young Muslim woman Naseem (Kreuk), hiding her in the home of his mother (Jaffrey). Gian also tries to do the right thing by Margaret (Campbell), the sister of a fallen comrade. And his budding romance with Naseem will force him to make some very difficult decisions.

The Romeo and Juliet nature of this story adds a level of impending tragedy to the film that grows stronger along the way. Will these people be able to find an oasis of peace in their divided nation at a time when 14 million people were displaced and more than 1 million died? Director-cowriter Sarin captures a strong sense of history through this gently told story, which builds its authenticity on simple, everyday life in the eye of a religious and political hurricane.

After a string of rather slight roles, it's great to see Mistry in something this robust; he's terrific here, lending weight and emotional honesty to the story and beautifully playing various precarious relationships. And while it's a bit difficult at first to see the glamorous Kreuk as a poor refugee, she brings the character to life with engaging subtlety. And the surrounding cast is also quite vivid, in much more limited ways.

As it progresses, the film begins to feel somewhat overserious and even mopey, which also adds to the sense of impending nastiness. And when the story shifts to Pakistan, there's an added level of suspense and peril. And in every situation, the film makes resonating observations about bigotry and fear, as Gian and Naseem try to convince their relatives and friends on either side of the divide that if they'd only just look at each other, they might discover a way to live together in peace.

cert 15 themes, violence 11.Sep.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall