Charulata ★★★★

Vidyuth Explores India #1

With the help of literary masterworks from legendary Indian nationalist poet Rabindranath Tagore and the visual eye and empathy to humanity from Satyajit Ray, as well as the charming, expressive and subtle performances of Madabhi Mukerjee and Soumitra Chatterjea, Charulata is an understated emotional journey that weaves the personal and the political. Extremely empathetic to it's characters and maturely impartial to it's conflicts. Charulatha is a deeply artistic trapped as a housewife in a lavishly superficial and empty mansion, but her passionistic and literary side is brought out by Amal, Charu's cousin in law who was assigned by her husband to spend time with her, and this results in a complicated love triangle, but one that feels natural and realistic. Ray takes time to explore and process moments of understated sorrow and to indulge in moments of poetry and tranquility. He uses simple framing devices to show the emotional turmoil rumbling within the characters, and using Tagore's nationalistic literature and poetry to criticize societal practices and gender roles. Facial expressions often carry the depths of the emotions of a scene. The ending's stillness represents the hollowness of the resolution of the conflict, but purposefully instead of frustratingly. Combined with heavenly, GORGEOUS cinematography and you have a masterpiece. My first Ray outside of the Apu trilogy hit strong and I'm extremely excited to check out the rest of his filmography.