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Midnight's Children - Review

Midnight's Children

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

BASED on Salmon Rushdie’s Booker prize winning novel of the same name, Midnight’s Children is a sweeping Indian epic that fails to impress.

Rather, it’s an overly long and emotionally underwhelming affair that has little to recommend it.

Set against the context of the key moments in Indian history, from the end of Colonialism to the partition of Pakistan, the film follows one family’s intermingled history and, in particular, a character named Saleem Sinai.

Switched at birth in a moment of protest by a nurse, Saleem is transferred to a life of privilege at the expense of Shiva, who subsequently follows an altogether different path.

Saleem is further blessed by magical powers that enable him to communicate with other children who were born on the stroke of midnight, thereby enabling him to plot his path through the country’s upheaval with greater ease, but which inevitably puts him on a collision course with Shiva.

Although set against a volatile time in Indian history as well as drawing on classic literature structures, Deepa Mehta’s film, which was adapted for the screen by Rushdie himself, feels contrived and more like a patchwork quilt of events that struggle to engage as a story.

Mehta’s direction, while colourful, also suffers from pedestrian pacing while Rushdie’s screenplay takes forever to get going, introducing too many characters who have nothing to offer, often at the expense of the film’s central group.

And even then some of the performances struggle to engage and it’s difficult to maintain an interest in anyone across the film’s duration.

Mehta does try to invest proceedings with a little more vibrancy by making the most of the striking Indian locations, adding some colour, while Nitin Sawhney contributes a typically beautiful soundtrack at various points.

But nothing can ultimately hide the feeling that the film struggles to engage, making Midnight’s Children a very, very long journey to have to undertake.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 148mins
UK Release Date: December 26, 2012