Before the Rains

British plantation owner and colonialist Henry Moores (Linus Roache) cavorts with his Indian mistress, Sajani (Nandita Das), as he makes plans to expand his operations. But his life begins to unravel: Labor unrest thwarts his plan to build a transport road as his sharp-eyed wife (the wonderfully headstrong Jennifer Ehle) joins him in India and Sajani’s brutal husband becomes suspicious. As you might expect from a Merchant Ivory production, Before the Rains is saddled with a predictable lushness — even a streak of blood on a dirty window is aestheticized until it looks like stained glass — and the sensuality here can crowd out the sense. Still, director Santosh Sivan imparts a vastness and a sense of wonder to the film that remind you why the Brits thought conquering India was a good idea.

Categories: Movies