The Other End of the Line

All the characters of the movie, The Other End of the Line seem like they are stuck in a giant gob of molasses. They are insufferably slow, weighed down, extremely uncomfortable and rather surprised at the unlikely predicament they find themselves in. And the obvious discomfort translates into a cringe-inducing time for those of us in front of the screen.

There is good discomfort - cue Borat or Tosh.O. But the cringes from the other end of the line was purely unintended, brought on by an over-simplified story, shallow characters, profusion of cliches and a rather uninterested editor. The story does not look good, even on paper. Boy in US may have had his credit card stolen. Girl works for credit card's fraud department in India. Girl flies to US for date with Boy. Girl realizes error of her ways, returns to India. Boy flies to India and everyone lives happily ever after. Oh, and also Boy overcomes fear of commitment and crossing metaphorical bridges (or rivers, as the case may be).

The Boy is Granger Woodruff (Jesse Metcalfe) who works for a two-man ad agency on the verge of going under. The Girl is Priya Sethi (Shriya), a closet-rebel in the newly empowered middle-class of India. There are others characters in the movie, who are introduced as discarded as necessary for the set-pieces to progress, but really none of them are irreplaceable. Kit Hawsin (Larry Miller) is the comic relief, and hotelier client. Rajeev Sethi (Anupam Kher) is the stereotypical angry father of the Indian bride.

It is almost impossible to identify with any of the characters. Founded on a paper thin premise, the characters seem indifferent, almost hypnotically self-centered. The bubbly character out of a B-grade creature-feature has more personality - at least you know he is going to die horribly very soon. With nothing at stake, the story becomes a dispassionate series of flickering images without rhyme or reason.

Watch Shades of Ray you are in the mood for a cross-cultural love story. If you in the mood for the funnies, Ira and Abby may help. For this movie, however, it is better kept at the other end of the line.

February 20, 2011

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