An outwardly happy Australian couple journey to Calcutta to collect their adopted baby, but on arrival find that the arrangements have yet to be finalized. Soon, the intoxicating mystic power of the Indian city pulls them in separate and unexpected directions, and the vulnerability of their marriage begins to reveal itself.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN November 01, 2023 at 12:55 AM
A couple seeking to adopt a child encounters the enchantment of India
This is an unusual movie which combines the plight of an Australian couple trying to adopt a child with the enchantment of India. Fiona (Radha Mitchell) is a high powered attorney who comes to India with her husband Ben ( Joel Edgerton ) a low powered musician who usually has his guitar nearby. They have come to Calcutta to pick up their adopted daughter and initially have to wait several days to make contact with her. They have their own issues between the two of them but are drawn to meet their daughter and also understand the prior short life that she has had. They meet Krishna ( Samrat Chakrabarti) who is on one hand the hotel worker who is serving them in his uncle's hotel but on the other hand seems to be a symbol of the country of their new child. These are the ingredients, that pulls the viewer into a spiritual experience which goes beyond the plot of the story. Fiona and Bill undergo a transformation, which is easy to identify with. The characters appeared to have learned some important things about themselves and the viewers have had an insight into the marital relationship of this couple, the meaning of international adoption and the multifaceted nature of India. Screenwriter and director Claire McCarthy was drawn to India by her own travels there. The film that she has created is authentic, beautifully photographed with muted lighting in soft colors but penetrates below the skin of the country and the people in the story.
Reviewed by Likes_Ninjas907 / 10
It is because of the authenticity of the film's visuals that a palpable atmosphere surrounds India's lower classes here
Ben Simmons (Joel Edgerton) and his wife Fiona (Radha Mitchell) are a married Australian couple travelling together through India. It is revealed that they are looking to adopt a child there since Fiona cannot have children of her own. Yet they find that the process is a troublesome one, regularly delayed by the paperwork. They stay in a hotel room, assisted by an Indian man named Krishna who provides them with advice on locations and attractions. Fiona though is regularly devoted to her work with her firm back home and seems less interested by the colourful surroundings, which frustrates Ben. Where she is far more city orientated, he seems to have a greater sense of the locations and the people. Their different attitudes come into conflict, particularly when a Ben meets Scarlett (Isabel Lucas), a girl he used to work with when he was still making music. These issues put a strain on Ben's marriage as he and his wife wait in their room for the agency to contact them.
This is the fourth film written and directed by Australian filmmaker Claire McCarthy and it's a picture that vividly photographs India as a vibrant and deeply mystical place. The film was shot on location in India, mostly in Calcutta, and there is a commendable degree of verisimilitude in the way that the streets have been chaotically filmed by McCarthy and her cinematographer Denson Baker. The lanes that Joel and Fiona explore are trampled by hundreds of people at a time. Some of these people are children running along the streets. Others are just working adults, like the merchants that regularly try to coax Ben and Fiona into buying goods. There are strange abnormalities too, suggestive of the sense of mythology that has been etched into the city, like when Fiona is disorientated and thinks she is seeing a woman with many arms, only for a child being carried on her back to be revealed. It is because of the authenticity of the film's visuals that a palpable atmosphere surrounds the India's lower classes here.
There are less impressive elements relating to the script though. The pacing of the narrative stammers into its second hour too slowly, mainly because of the film's tendency to move in tangents. The subplot involving Isabel Lucas's character Scarlett is a primary example. It raises speculation about Joel's commitment to his wife and there are some weighty tensions between them but it feels unresolved because the character Scarlett moves in and out of the picture. The film also has a weak grasp on the ideas of spirituality. At one point Fiona admits that she can feel the spirit of her deceased mother in the city. But a potentially interesting idea is a rather transparent one because it isn't reflected on ever again. In another scene Fiona does not take part in a ritual and it might have been more interesting if the dialogue made reflections on this after the film's rather tragic climax. In spite of these deficiencies there are two solid and likable performances here through Edgerton and Mitchell. Their roles are constructed to the point where one has to question what they see in each other. It is again never touched on but at least the frustrations and the emotions shared between them ring true. Lucas's part seems to be underwritten and her character is a mild distraction to the story.
The Waiting City is a minor Australian picture that is rich in its atmosphere and sense of culture. Yet it is also marred by a problematic screenplay and uneven pacing. It wades through the tangents of the first act, towards a second half where the characters fail to reflect on what has really transformed their lives. In such a deeply spiritual place the film never seems quite as profound as it should be because both the characters and the audience remain as outsiders. There are questions over the relationship too, but both leads at least make them likable tourists, who only just skim on the surface of India.
Reviewed by lewiskendell6 / 10
Not bad, but perhaps too slow-paced for some.
"You must act out of love, not desperation or need."
I've yet to see a movie set in India that wasn't a visual treat to watch, and The Waiting City definitely earns it's place on that list. The story, about an Australian couple come to Kolkata to adopt a child in the hopes that it will fix their strained relationship, is also interesting, even though I thought it stumbled into predictable, melodramatic territory at times. This is sort of an emotional coming of age story for the two main characters, both as individuals and a couple. The transition from who they are at the beginning to who they are at the end isn't exactly handled in the most organic way, but it is mostly believable.
The movie dabbles in ideas about faith and spirituality, as well, but in a very unfocused way.
I recommend The Waiting City to those interested in India, fans of Radha Mitchell or Joel Edgerton, and movie fans comfortable with subdued, personal storytelling that takes its time to get where it's going.