Five years after his highly accomplished “Shadow Kill,” vet auteur Adoor Gopalakrishnan has resurfaced with “Four Women,” a minor work best seen as a primer on the fiction of author Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, whose stories, like Gopalakrishnan’s films, are set in Kerala, in southern India. Quartet of tales, profiling a domestic/sexual dilemma suffered by women in subservient positions, tend toward repetition while stoking similar thematic points, and extending any one of these to feature length, particularly the finale starring commercial thesp Nandita Das, would have been a smarter option. Fests and buyers will be fairly indifferent, with the pic’s local October release aimed at elite crowds.
First tale observes a retired prostitute (Padmapriya) who lives on the streets with her husband until they’re arrested. Funniest section involves a virgin bride-to-be (Geetu Mohandas) stunned to realize that the groom (Nandulal) is a pig who does nothing but eat, and then dumps her. Slightest story features a wife (Manju Pillai) forced to consider having a child with a surrogate, a man from her past (Mukesh); while fourth tale — with Das’ spinster feeling pressure to marry at all cost — is too truncated.