Three stories. Three tales somehow involving rape or more importantly, the aftermath. Three horrendous situations that share one thing in common. The slightest glimmer of hope. Although the plot of "WHITE" is reliant on the cultures and customs of India, rape itself is universal. Something that writer, director Aneek Chaudhuri clearly knows and takes advantage of. This anthology, these stories, are meant to raise awareness. In my opinion that is. Other than that, their secondary function is, as I wrote above, to showcase life moving forward for these woman. Difficult. Heartbreaking - yet hopeful.
"WHITE" also separates itself from the crowd in another way. It's a silent film. After reading about the plot-lines of the movie I was a little skeptical. Having such a serious tone to a film, and making it silent, could be a dangerous combination. It also felt a little like a gimmick. After watching the three short stories? I'm still a little on the fence. The silent aspect did work at times, but not always. I think it would have been more effective to have just one of the stories shown as a silent film. Kind of like a divider, a mid point for the three. I'll get into that a little more later in the write up.
As mentioned above, "WHITE" as a whole production deals with different aspects of rape. From rape in the workplace, to the child of a rape victim, to the husband - and family life of yet another victim. Powerful stuff. Even more powerful and controversial in India, where views on woman are a more old school, harsh. However, it's not hard to imagine this content raising a few eyeballs no matter where you are from. The catch is that unless you are incredibly focused, you may miss the stories completely. Even then, "WHITE" can be tough to follow. Chaudhuri's film is all symbols and craft, with very little actually being shown. Again, adding the choice to make this a completely silent film, and the stakes are higher.
On a personal note. My favorite story visually was number two. My favorite tale from an actual story perspective, was number three.
The technical elements I'm going to write about are all personal preference. There is nothing really bad about the productions themselves. Honestly, the production value overall felt pretty alright. Probably a lot higher than it actually was. It was the choices that were hit and miss for me.
Using the first story as the introduction to the film was something I wouldn't have done. It is very long and slow. I honestly believe that this story, could have been told in under half the screen time it was given. A never ending barrage of establishing shots. Curtains. Surroundings. Over and over again... including an incredible amount of time wasted on our leading lady sewing. I understand this was probably done to showcase a mundane life. The day-to-day activity. It was just a lot to take in. Really a lot. I believe it should have been cut down to ten to twelve minutes. The same story could have been told. Exactly the same. But even left with it's current full length, it should have been the middle story, or the last one. The idea is to get people hooked for the entire film. Not have them time out right from the start.
The second segment, was visually my favorite. It was also what I would have considered the best choice to be the opening story. It was faster, easier to understand, and just looked so darn pretty.
My biggest concern is the lack of dialog, but more to the point, the lack of a cut and dried showcase of the plot. Especially with the first segment... it's really hard to discern this opening piece is about rape at all. It could literally be about a girl who got pregnant - and had to work up until she gave birth. It's all so ambiguous. The clues are in place, but are so infrequent and easy to miss. The other two stories are easier to follow... sort of. In a nutshell? You more or less have to know before you watch, that this is an anthology involving rape.
At the end of the day, once past the first hurdle, "WHITE" has a lot to offer. Yes. I think it should be trimmed down in length, a lot... but when it hits home it really hits home. My concern is that many people won't give this film a chance. They may not stick around until the second and third story. That's a shame. Even more to the point? The first story is really damn good. I'm not knocking the visual style or the actress's ability to act - or the guys ability to be a little creepy. It's just edited in a way that is far on the side of excessive.
However, overall "WHITE" was a well above average feature film with some very tough content. Tough and interesting, when put together, always equal powerful. The right audience is simply needed to fully appreciate what "WHITE" has to offer. A thinking mans film. No question.