Before the Rains | Chicago Reader

Before the Rains

Producer Ismail Merchant died in 2005, but Merchant Ivory's stuffy tradition of quality lives on. This watchable drama by Santosh Sivan revisits the theme of the company's biggest U.S. hit, A Passage to India (1984), with its tale of British sexual mores lousing up colonial India. In the southern state of Kerala, where resentment against the empire is boiling over, an English spice planter (Linus Roache) pursues an adulterous affair with his Nair house servant (Nandita Das); their secret compromises not only her but his assistant (Rahul Bose), who's torn between loyalty to his boss and the resentments of his own people. Screenwriter Cathy Rabin adapted a segment from Dany Verete's Yellow Asphalt (Three Desert Stories) (2000) that dealt with an Israeli farmer and his bedouin maid. In English and subtitled Malayalam. PG-13, 98 min.

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