Provoked - A True Story (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner04/04/2007

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

The story is interesting and Aishwarya Rai is terrific in the lead role but the film is ultimately let down by some amateurish direction and a badly written script.

What's it all about?
Set in London and based on a true story, Provoked stars Bollywood sensation Aishwarya Rai as battered Punjabi housewife Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who sets her alcoholic husband Deepak (Naveen Andrews) on fire after suffering a decade of abuse.

Charged with murder, Kiranjit is sentenced to life imprisonment but a young woman working for the Southall Black Sisters pressure group (Nandita Das as Radha) persuades her to mount an appeal.

The Good
This is an important story that led to a landmark case which redefined the legal definition of provocation in the case of battered women. Aishwarya Rai gives a terrific performance in the lead role which is just as well because some of the supporting performances are decidedly ropey.

That said, Rai just about holds the film together and there's strong support from the ever-reliable Miranda Richardson (as Kiranjit's cellmate Ronnie) and Robbie Coltrane as the QC who files her appeal. However, the less said about Steve McFadden's (Phil Mitchell from EastEnders) performance as a racist policeman, the better.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the film has to scale the twin obstacles of Jag Mundhra's abysmal direction and an appallingly written script. The clunky dialogue is frequently atrocious and the actors struggle to deliver the lines in ways that won't make the audience laugh out loud.

In addition, the vast majority of the scenes are badly staged and have an amateurish quality to them that would put even the worst made-for-TV movie to shame. Ultimately, when the film works, it works in spite of the direction and the dialogue, rather than because of it.

Worth seeing?
Provoked is just about worth seeing for its important subject matter and for Aishwarya Rai's performance but it's a real struggle at times, due to the astonishingly inept direction.

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Content updated: 22/10/2017 14:33

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