HIFF Photograph Part 1 Review

At the 2019 Spring Showcase for the Hawaii International Film Festival I was able to see the film Photograph by Ritesh Batra. At the end of this film I felt very as if almost nothing happened, but I will leave the rest of those thoughts for part two. For this first part I will be looking at the beginning and middle of the film.

The film starts with the main male lead taking pictures for families at one of India’s landmarks. He goes through a whole speech of how this photo will help people remember the sun in their eyes, the wind in their hair, and the happiness they felt when they look at it, and then the scene shifts. The audience is then introduced to the main female lead as she, her mother, and elder sister look at what color and clothing suit her best. The main female lead is introduced as demure and quiet, who does not care if all her choices are made for her.

As the female lead is traveling back home with her family they pass by the landmark where the male lead is taking pictures she passes him and gets her picture taken. Before she can pay him for his services her family calls her, and she leaves without saying anything and taking the picture. The film then moves into the main part of the storyline where the audience finds out the male leads grandma wants her son to marry, but he refuses to find someone until he has paid off the debt of his family. Tired of the pressure from his friends, grandmother, and the rest of the community, he writes to his grandma telling her of his supposed girlfriend, the female lead, and that she does not need to worry about him.

The film moves at an agonizingly slow pace with coincidental meetings between the two where the audience is left wondering if they even saw each other, and awkward one-sided conversations. Half-way through the film I was wondering if it was just bad pacing, or if it was just a cultural difference. As the film takes place in India, I was not sure if this was normal, or if the conversations were just not well scripted. In my opinion there was a lot of dead space, that could have been removed to speed the film along, but it was left leaving me wishing for them to just say something. I wish I could like this film more, but I just could not. It will be available on Amazon soon, if you would like to check it out yourself, but this film was definitely not my cup of tea. Look out for Part 2 of this movie post where I look at the ending, and how it was good but very unfulfilling.

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