Review: ‘The Compensation’

A strong meller that uses class injustice themes as a springboard for "Deliverance"-style wilderness survival thrills, "The Compensation" reps an assured bigscreen bow for Sri Lankan TV vet Bennett Rathnayake. Prospects are good for limited tube/video export sales, with outside chance of specialized theatrical distrib.

A strong meller that uses class injustice themes as a springboard for “Deliverance”-style wilderness survival thrills, “The Compensation” reps an assured bigscreen bow for Sri Lankan TV vet Bennett Rathnayake. Prospects are good for limited tube/video export sales, with outside chance of specialized theatrical distrib.

Story is framed by an old man’s confession to police of a multiple murder he’d committed over a half-century earlier; recent passing of his wife has freed him to clear his conscience. On the eve of Sri Lanka’s 1948 independence from colonial British rule, poor sapphire mine laborer Guneris (Joe Abeywickrama) and his spouse (Ravindra Randeniya) are denied treatment for their malaria-stricken infant by the village’s high-caste autocrat-cum-doctor. While digging the child’s grave, couple discovers a huge gem; wise to local dealers’ cheating ways, they plan to sell it in a distant city. But the “master’s” goons have free rein to seize the valuable stone by any means. Subsequent arduous chase and climactic violence (including brutal gang rape) are fairly exciting, though pace could have been wound even tighter. Restrained perfs and vivid outdoor lensing complete pro package.

The Compensation

Sri Lanka

Production

A Benn Films Creation House production. Produced by Samanmalee Hewamanne, Bennett Rathnayake. Directed, written by Bennett Rathnayake.

Crew

Camera (color), Channa Deshapriya; editor, Stanley de Alwis; music, Harsha Makalanda. Reviewed at Montreal Film Festival (World Cinema), Aug. 26, 2001. Original title: Aswesuma. Running time: 112 MIN.

With

Joe Abeywickrama, Jackson Anthoney, Ravindra Randeniya, Sangeetha Weerrarathna, Mahendra Perera, Douglas Ranasinghe.
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