Daily | Cannes 2015 | Gurvinder Singh’s THE FOURTH DIRECTION

The Fourth Direction

‘The Fourth Direction’

First up, the New York TimesManohla Dargis interviews Gurvinder Singh, whose new film “takes place in 1984, the year Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards. The Fourth Direction doesn’t directly address the political crises surrounding that assassination, including, before Gandhi’s death, the Indian military’s assault on Sikh separatists who had taken over the Golden Temple of Amritsar (Sikhism’s holiest shrine), or the anti-Sikh riots after her death that led to the slaughter of thousands. Instead, Mr. Singh tells a fictional tale that opens with two Hindu men running and closes with them walking together with several newfound Sikh confederates in a quietly moving assertion of Indian unity. In between, the country’s political and religious agonies largely shudder right below the surface, creating intense, palpable unease. This, Mr. Singh suggests, is what it feels like to live in fear.”

“Singh, who made his directing bow in 2011 with the award-winning drama Alms for a Blind Horse, conveys this very well in the tale of farmer Joginder (Suvinder Vikky), who is ordered by a gang of armed militants to put down his barking guard dog because he raises the alarm when they are in the vicinity.” The Hollywood Reporter‘s Deborah Young: “His reluctance to kill Tommy, who has become a family pet, fuels the small-scale drama, while the larger hostilities between Indira Gandhi’s army and the Sikhs heads toward the boiling point in the background.”

“While he succeeds in capturing the crushing unease of the countryside, full of uncertain, frightened glances, Singh neglects dramatic construction,” finds Jay Weissberg in Variety. “Part of the problem is the bookended structure, used to combine two stories by writer (and co-scripter) Waryam Singh Sandhu—they simply don’t work together, largely because the end fails to add depth to the main tale, and consequently weakens emotional impact.”

“While the plot’s moral code is fairly obvious, Singh’s directorial choices are often remarkably effective, whether in the camera angles, the long travelling shots, the nervous tension and insecurity transmitted in every glance and reflected in every silence and echoed in every sound.” For Screen’s Dan Fainaru, the main drawback is the pace: “30 minutes less would be so much more.”

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