Starring Linus Roache, Jennifer Ehle and Rahul Bose, Directed by Santosh Sivan
Running Time: 98 mins
Rated: Rated: tbc
This is an old-fashioned film for those who are not into fast and slick action. It is reminiscent of many of the films of the 30s, 40s and 50s, often based on stories by W. Somerset Maugham, stories of colonial plantation owners, affairs with the locals and presenting a presumptuous picture of British settlement, trade and exploitation of the colonies. Before the Rains certainly does this.

The plot is developed in a rather low-key way but it is presented amid beautiful Kerala scenery. The time is 1937 and there are more than rumblings all over India for independence. In the meantime, British planters are developing roads for transport of spices for further trade benefits. The local men are given opportunity for work on the new roads - which must be built strongly and securely before the rains come.

Linus Roache portrays Henry Moores, a seemingly thoughtful man who is securing bank loans for a new road. We see him involved, quite lyrically, with his servant (Nandita Das) who is in love with him. And then we discover that he has a wife and son and that she is married, albeit to a brutal and unloving husband. When she runs away from him, expecting to be taken in by Henry Moores not only do complications ensue but tragedy for her.

Further complications arise because of the unwilling involvement of Moore's British-school educated foreman, T.K. (a sympathetic Rahul Bose) who has to face a moral decision in giving information to the village elders, led by his father. He undergoes a traditional ritual like a medieval ordeal to test whether he is telling the truth or not.

The tragedy reveals the lack of moral courage and integrity in Moores and the dismay of his wife (Jennifer Ehle).

This means that the familiar enough story serves as an allegory of the British presence in India and other colonies. They are dominant when they are in control but exploit both the land and the people (including sexually). They cannot face up to their responsibilities and should be ousted.

Before the Rains was directed by renowned Indian cinematographer Sandosh Sivan who also wrote and directed the thriller, The Terrorist (1999).

RialtoOpens September 14

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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