Reviewed at Hawaii Intl. Film Festival, Nov. 12, 1993. Running time: 105 MIN.
Woman … Anoja Weerasinghe
Driver … Ravindra Randeniya
Hunter … Daya Thennakoon
Bande … Cyril Wickramage
Mudalali … G. Goonawardena
Jumbo … Dilani Abeywardena
Yet another village pic in which Third Worlders go urban and discover it’s not so nice, “The City” adds nothing new to the bulging genre and can’t expect to find new demographics elsewhere.
A prototypical back-country woman (the ever-suffering Anoja Weerasinghe) goes along with her farmer-husband’s plan to open a roadside shop, even though their tiny village already has one, and she accurately smells trouble. Seems hubby has the patronage of a relatively affluent — and strikingly Anglo-Indian — trucker (Ravindra Randeniya), who trades urban goods for the ganja grown by the couple’s laconic, always-stoned buddy (Daya Thennakoon).
Unfortunately, booze is also part of the bargain, and the rural types are soon besotted, besieged or worse. Things (including the sound, lensing and editing) get so ugly, that the woman ends up moving with Mr. Driver to Colombo, where she discovers such newfangled comforts as rent, public toilets and rock videos.
The pic’s always watchable; as many memorable characters show up as there are illogical twists in the script. But helmer Premaratne appears to have tricked up the tale with a complex flashback structure simply because he could — this form never serves the tale in any way that straight chronology wouldn’t improve on. Subtitles cover maybe half the dialogue.