Friday, 9 July 2010
FILM REVIEW: THE WAITING CITY
Time was, young Westerners ventured to India seeking spiritual awakening. Fiona (Radha Mitchell) and Simon (Joel Edgerton) have come to India for another form of fulfillment: to adopt a baby girl. It's while waiting for the adoption to clear the Indian bureaucracy that the cracks in the couple's relationships begin to widen.
Claire McCarthy's directorial debut (she also penned the screenplay) is more about the state of this marriage than it is about the question of Westerners adopting from overseas or even adoption itself. It's more concerned with what people will do to be happy or to fill a void. Some choose religion or spirituality, hence such journeys to India; Fiona thinks a baby will do the trick.
A successful lawyer, Fiona already feels as though she has her mothering skills down pat; in her relationship with Simon, a musician, she has always assumed the responsible, parental role. While not exactly a kidult, Simon appears as though he's still in his university days. He writes and performs music for the love of it; hitting the big time would be great but life's pretty sweet anyway.
Of course, holed up in an Indian hotel for over a week all manner of resentments – of each other and of one's self – can't help but bubble to the surface. And if the couple weren't already at breaking point, when they finally get to meet their prospective daughter everything is brought into harsh perspective.
I'm not exactly sure what McCarthy's intent was with The Waiting City: an essay on adoption or a study of a marriage in meltdown? I certainly don't think it succeeds as the former, and as the latter, Fiona and Simon are no Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton from Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf, or Kate and Leo from Revolutionary Road.
And despite the denouement, I wasn't moved by the experience either. That isn't to say Edgerton, Mitchell (who also exec produced the film) and McCarthy don't invest the film with emotion. Or blood, sweat and tears. Shooting on location in India can't have been easy and the film certainly looks good, and not in a travelogue kind of way.