The shots of urban traffic jams have more spark than the story, which skips from a pregnancy to the filming of a musical to murder - without convincing us of any of it.
Life is suffering, as the Buddha said (including in Hardy's emotionally grinding novels), but it's more complex and contradictory than the ginned-up realism Mr. Winterbottom delivers here.
Trishna engages the potent collisions of the rural and the urban, the poor and the rich, and considers how these interactions unfold in a romance and how they might also destroy it.
This escalation of passions and Trishna's humiliation demands much of both actors, yet neither Pinto nor Ahmed is completely convincing and this is the main flaw of Trishna.
As a portrait of a nation amid accelerated and profound change, "Trishna" is a vivid piece of cinema. As a melodrama, it's provocative without being emotionally involving, the central performance more distancing than engaging.
Trishna is an admirable effort, but it's too detached and disinterested in the viewer to make an impact. This is a tough film to get through, and even if one makes it to the end, there's little reward to be found.