Thursday, May 9

Midnight's Children Review

Midnight’s Children
Dir: Deepa Mehta
Starring: Satya Bhabha, Darsheel Safary,
Shahana Goswami, and Siddharth

There are an abundance of topics, and subtopics, found within the pages of Salman Rushdie’s award-winning/beloved novel Midnight’s Children. To occupy a film that composes these numerous themes, with satisfaction towards the literary purist, is near impossible even with Rushdie himself writing the screenplay (which is the case here).  Midnight’s Children, directed by Deepa Mehta, is given a thoughtful rendition, though unfortunately loses some of the wonder and magic found in the novel due to a lack of unity between the interconnected themes.

The film follows the lives of two babies born at midnight, the exact moment India declares its’ independence from the British. The two babies are switched, a singular act of personal revolution by a nurse named Mary (Sheema Biswas), and fostered in different societies one of which is privileged and the other poor.  The lives of the two boys, one named Shiva (Siddharth) and the other Saleem (Satya Bhabha), is back dropped throughout their lives by significant events in India’s tumultuous history along with other magical experiences involving the other children born at the fateful midnight hour.

Rushdie narrates the film with a delighted, if somewhat monotone, emotion similar to what he exudes through the words in the book. The film displays a lush color palette and some especially beautiful scenic photography. Though the film is technically accomplished, the main issue with the film lies in the stripped down narrative. The film lacks a unified quality, the idea of the political and social impact of India’s past and the subtler progression of the symbolic nature of the mystical children are aggregated in ways that seem more arbitrary than controlled. However, in defense of the uneven tone, to compose a film that embraces the ritual, symbol, subplots, and epic-sized historical plight that Rushdie adorns in his novel would be a composition to big for just one film to achieve alone.

There are moments were the film shines. Mehta seems most comfortable in portraying the family dynamics witnessed throughout the film; whether it’s the symbolic nature of the word “family” or the relationship of fathers and sons, these scenes are nicely represented. Unfortunately, as the film progresses, and the narrative elements continue to pile on, the characters get lost in the mix of added depth.

Salman Rushdie crafted an intricate narrative with Midnight’s Children; and though his participation can be felt in positive ways during this film adaptation, the sprawling, thorough scope of the novel proves too big to encapsulate cohesively in the realms of a single film.

Monte’s Rating
2.75 out of 5.00

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