Published Apr 02, 2009It seems like every couple of months some filmmaker or artiste is filling a blank canvas with an idealized vision of the poor to prove that money doesn't buy happiness or more importantly, intelligence. It's an obvious observation, and perhaps one that is more eloquently proven by programming such as The Real Wives of Orange County or The Simple Life than a pretentious film, which suggests that wisdom stems from suffering.
While this notion is not untrue, the reality is that for every one wise poor person there are a hundred Molson Canadian drinking rednecks with posters of naked women in their washrooms.
Such is the problem with The Pool, a movie about a poor "room boy" named Venkatesh (Venkatesh Chavan), whose curiosities about an opulent garden and glittering pool lead him to examine the life of their owner (Nana Patekar) and his daughter (Ayesha Mohan), and in turn the world of perspective. The movie makes a nice point in as straightforward a manner as possible but is rarely engaging on any level.
In true neorealist tradition, The Pool never feels like it was "made," having an ear for the dealings of young people and an air of observation, but it never demonstrates tension or emotional connection either, existing within a vacuum of long-winded pedagogy. Part of this stems from the lead actors, in particular Venkatesh, who is entirely flat throughout, often looking at the camera and bobbing his head around blankly. And the other part comes from the aforementioned hippie-dippy message of selflessness, which seems both egregious and glib.
For all of its deceptive simplicity and documentary style observations, the greatest downfall of The Pool is that it feels even more manufactured than a summer blockbuster, which is ironic, considering how "earthy" and "organic" it desperately wants to be. The granola crowd may get a kick out of these human truths but most viewers will be discretely checking their watches. (Kinosmith)