Directed by: #PriyamChanda
Written by: #SushovanDasgupta
Film Review by Joyce Cowan
The Round Trip is an incisive and honest exploration of betrayal, identity and truth.
Blood is thicker than water, the old adage assures us- meaning family is not only always present, but also never lets you down. With questioning spirit writer Sushovan Dasgupta set out to explore this assumption in The Round Trip, and the result is moving.
From the beginning the stakes are high as a young couple of Indian origin who live in the United States face one of their greatest decisions relating to how they will extend their family, which is happening simultaneously to Sanaya, the one whom the story revolves around, having found her only known family member through an ancestry website. Straight away, the narrative technique is conventional but, in my view, effective. There is great use of flashbacks to suggest reflection and relating to the film’s title in an artful way, as the story turns full circle within its approximately 15 minutes’ duration.
The performances are, for the most part, truthful and absorbing although in the scene with the highest dramatic tension Sanaya’s reaction feels somewhat anticlimactic, with an expressiveness that is visible but too contained, which is effective at other points in the film. Sanaya is a relatable character and the portrayal of her attempt to deal with a key decision and face her family history in a way that is intimate but does not lead her to isolate is wonderful to see. All five actors played their characters with palpable commitment and visibly relished in the naturalistic dialogue (or at least it seems naturalistic to a Western viewer like me).
This is a film that would have been technically flawless were it not for some sound editing that seems harsh and distracting rather than meaningful, but I wouldn’t dwell on this. The cinematography is mostly strong, with points of view that seem to reflect the character’s moods and predicaments, accomplished medium shots and eye-catching wide shots of the Indian urban landscape. Director Priyam Chanda’s empathy with the script, the characters and the subject matter really shines through.
The way in which the film examines the concept of and assumptions about the institution of family and blood relations, without claiming to have an answer or even that there is a single answer, makes it well worth watching. Family is a key part of human life in all locations all cultures, thus it is a theme rich with opportunities for filmmakers. The cast and crew of this film made it their own for a genuine take. Its quality is undeniable.