The Waiting City
(M) Hopscotch DVD
Director and writer Clare McCarthy spent many years in India and this feature film benefits enormously from that experience.
The film’s central concept of a young, western couple finding themselves in a strangely frenzied and spiritual environment is almost the stuff of cliché, but McCarthy’s work is free of stereotypes.
Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton play Fiona and Ben, an Australian couple in their 30s who have come to Kolkata to collect their adopted baby. They arrive in India to chaos: Fiona’s suitcase has gone missing and the paperwork for their adoption is yet to be finalised, forcing them to wait before they can take custody of the child.
Away from home and their respective roles — she’s a high-powered lawyer, he’s a disengaged music producer — their relationship begins to fray. The intoxicating Kolkata exposes vulnerability in their relationship.
This film is an immersive experience featuring a subtle weave of humour and themes of motherhood.
At times Fiona and Ben are completely believable as a couple, at others, perhaps not. It’s this slight inconsistency in the writing of the roles which distances the viewer from them.
Mitchell and Edgerton are excellent with what they have to work with and Samrat Chakrabarti almost steals the show as Krishna, Fiona and Ben’s guide in both the physical and spiritual sense.
Isabel Lucas, on the other hand, barely rates a mention, her underwhelming character a barely concealed plot device.
The Waiting City is an impressive piece of filmmaking despite a few niggling flaws.