Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sundance report: The Bengali Detective.

From the World Cinema Documentary Competition comes The Bengali Detective, the story of Rajesh Ji, one of a growing number of private detectives in India.  These detectives are hired because police corruption means it's hard for crimes to get the attention they deserve.  In fact, only 70 percent of homicides are ever solved in India.

Director Philip Cox gets big kudos for creating a film that's engaging and fun to watch. And Rajesh and his strange cast of assistants are fascinating to watch.  But I expect a lot from Sundance documentaries and this fell short.  I don't think it's due to anything Philip Cox did, but rather that the story didn't pan out as well as it could have.  Rajesh and his team were unable to solve the core crime they were working which was anti-climactic.  

And even some of the attempts at humor weren't that great.  Rajesh fancies himself as a bit of a Bollywood dancer and even enters himself and his employees in an Indian TV dance competition.   This would have made the movie if the group had either been surprising good or ridiculously bad. Instead, they were just bad; and not even funny bad.  The TV dance show, even after sending a choreographer to help the group out, chose not to include them on the show; which is too bad because that story line could have helped the movie.

The Bengali Detective is good, but this is Sundance.  And I hope I see some documentaries that are better than this.

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