Film review: With You, Without You

Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 23 2014, 02:35am hrs
With You, Without YouReview: With You, Without You
Rating: **

Cast: Shyam Fernando, Anjali Patil, Wasantha Moragoda, Maheshwari Ratnam

Director: Prasanna Vithanage

The long-drawn out ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is the backdrop of this tale of an unlikely couple, With You, Without You. Middle-aged pawnshop owner Sarathsiri ( Fernando) is drawn to the young Selvi ( Patil) during a transaction. Marriage follows, as does a brief interlude of getting to know each other. An old friends ( Moragoda) unexpected visit reveals secrets buried in the past, and out tumble old wounds.

Award-winning director Prasanna Vithanage does a good job with sketching his characters with economy. Whats even nicer is the way dialogues are kept to a minimum. Silence plays a large part in underlining the atmosphere, and Vithanage shows us just how effective it can be. Selvis eyes do the talking as she blooms and withers; Sarathsiris dourness, which colours their initial relationship, is even more effective. So is the quiet that descends upon them when the cracks begin showing : Selvi is a Tamil war victim ; Sarathsiri is a former Sri Lankan army soldier.

There are some eloquent moments that point to the differences between the newly-weds, which is not just about age : he watches WWF bouts, volume cranked up; she learns to make him happy, prancing about the dining table, with a little bit of help from an elderly cook ( Ratnam).

Fernando underplays well; Patil is more on the surface. But the trouble lies in another direction. The man and the woman are not given enough to play with : its their brutal histories which are driving them apart, but we dont see as much of it as we need to . For an audience not well versed in Sri Lankan history, there isnt too much information about the conflict, and without enough context, the impact lessens.

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