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Partition needs heart
by: Feb 5, 2007 Print

Despite being set in India within a decade of the same tumultuous period described in Deepa Mehta's tragic love story Water, Vic Sarin's Partition has none of that film's grace, restraint or unity of vision. Look for a brief run that attracts a largely Indo-Canadian crowd, followed by a hasty exit from theaters. The film opens Feb. 2 through Seville Pictures.

As cinematographer, Sarin has served the details of his epic story well. Partially shot on the West Coast, Canada is transmuted handsomely into 1940s Partition-era India, and production design is top-notch and peopled with a well-chosen cast of B.C. locals.

However, as cowriter and director, Sarin delivers a patchy, melodramatic love story that is at its worst laughable.

Gian (Jimi Mistry) is Sikh, and Naseem (Kristine Kreuk) a Muslim girl that he saves from a roadside massacre. Despite the objections of his village, they fall in love, marry and have a child. Years later, she discovers her family is still alive and, with his blessing, goes to see them. When she doesn't return, Gian sets out with their young son to bring her back.

Mistry (Touch of Pink) and Kreuk (Smallville) have chemistry, but are let down by a heavy-handed story arc, on-the-nose dialogue and clumsy handling of the physical action (apart from a strong wartime sequence). Scenes that build emotion are followed by lazy transitions that hamstring the story's momentum - problems that could have been remedied with a little care in the development stage, better planning prior to a final shooting script, or even through tweaks during the final edit.

In one press screening, during a tender scene where Gian is comforted by a suddenly frisky Naseem following a flashback from the war, the audience broke out into laughter because of an abrupt cut to a marriage montage that compresses what should be the most engaging part of their courtship.

The details are important, but even the most patient theatregoers need some love in their love stories.

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