‘Pool’ of deep reflection
The Washington Post
Aspen, CO Colorado
Milwaukee-based Chris Smith emerged as a filmmaker of exceptional insight and compassion with such documentaries as “American Job” and “American Movie.” He proves just as astute in his fiction debut, a contemplative, deeply atmospheric drama called “The Pool,” set, of all places, in Goa, India.
Venkatesh (Venkatesh Chavan), a young man from the countryside, works in a Panjim hotel as a “room boy” and, along with his sidekick, Jhangir (Jhangir Badshah), picks up odd jobs selling plastic bags on the street. When he spies a tranquil swimming pool in the back yard of a handsome contemporary home outside town, he becomes obsessed with it ” not only with the privilege and leisure it represents but with the pretty girl who often languishes on its edge while her father (Nana Patekar) tends the surrounding garden.
Venkatesh eventually forges a relationship with the girl and the man, and as the three share their stories, “The Pool” takes on the meaning and gentle irony of an O. Henry short story. Adapted by Smith from a short story by Randy Russell, “The Pool” takes viewers on a journey to Goa that is startling not only in the lush physical beauty it reveals but also in the subtle, finely wrought emotions it stirs.
The result is a vivid portrait, not just of one unforgettable young man but also of a country in transition. The pool itself turns out to be an improbably charismatic title character, a serenely inviting metaphor for the promise and perils of change.
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