Mansion By the Lake, 2003

An aristocratic widow and her daughter living abroad in Europe for the past five years are summoned home by family in order to resolve the late husband’s outstanding debt that would result in the bank’s seizure of the family estate. Broaching complex and indigenous themes that invariably invite comparisons to Far East Asian realist filmmakers – in particular, the obsolescence of feudal aristocracy (and its replacement by capitalist entrepreneurship) and the entrenchment of social caste explored respectively by Satyajit Ray in Jalsaghar and Shyam Benegal in Ankur – Lester James Peries’s film unfortunately suffers from underformed, almost caricatured characters (the eternally grief-stricken widow and mother, the protest mantra-spewing, obliquely radical student, the comically senile elderly aunt, and the unsentimental, social-climbing businessman) creating a superficial, unsubstantive, and ultimately unengaging film.

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