An attempt to shoehorn film theory lessons on space and time into a tale of powerless Punjabi villagers overwhelms the initial artistry of Gurvinder Singh’s “Alms of the Blind Horse.” Singh, a protege of the late Mani Kaul (credited as creative producer), exhibits a talent for striking compositions and an intriguing sense of stillness, yet after the 40-minute mark, most auds will be begging “Alms” to offer more than undifferentiated placidity. A more hands-on producer could guide the helmer to a tighter sophomore work, but in the meantime, his debut won’t get further than scattered fests.
When houses are demolished by a powerful land-owning concern, the villagers angrily gather, despite knowing their voices won’t be heard. The silent lined face of Father (Mal Singh) provides a lingering image of dignified protest resigned to injustice. His son, Melu (Samuel Sikander John), — the pressbook says son, the subtitles say nephew — a rickshaw puller in the nearby city of Bathinda, is involved in a labor action but spends most of his time frustrated and depressed. Becalmed proletarian struggles are wedded to slow pans and the dissonant notes of a wooden flute.