So aside from being productive/creative this Labor Day weekend, I also watched three very different movies. I re-watched Princess Mononoke, a breathtaking and beautiful merger of Miyazaki's mythology and traditional hand-drawn animation. I also saw The Station Agent, an almost perfect little film that ended too soon.
And then I watched Raincoat (2003).
Raincoat is an O. Henry-inspired film that follows Manu (Ajay Devgan) as takes a detour from finding investors to meet up with his long lost love, Niru (Aishwarya Rai), who had married into money. Of course, now she has neither money nor a worthwhile marriage, but she doesn't let that on. Instead of being honest with one another, the pair spends an afternoon lying to one another to make themselves seem happier than they really are. And, because it's inspired by O. Henry, you know there's going to be a twist at the end - and, if you're familiar with O. Henry, you can probably already guess what that twist is.
The positives - the acting is wonderful. Of course, I could watch Ajay look soulful all day, but he's also good to watch in motion. Aishwarya channels her usual aloofness in a role that actually requires it. The bit players -Niru's landlord, Manu's friends - are also straight on. They create real people rather than the ordinary Bollywood caricatures; director Rituparno Ghosh goes with a more subdued approach (that also means no naach-gaana). The characters are really well-drawn, the cinematography is excellent - this would be a perfect little film.
It would be, except that it was too long. The inspiration for the film - O. Henry's story "The Gift of the Magi" - is short for a reason. The premise doesn't stretch all that far. It focused mostly on dialogue between the two main characters, interspersed with flashbacks to when they were young and happy together, but there was also a lot of "dead air" during the film. It was a continual, drawn-out feeling of waiting. Quite frankly, it got kind of boring.
It's certainly worth watching once for Ajay and Aishwarya's acting combined with Ghosh's attention to detail, but I don't think this rental merits a re-watch any time soon.