Mistress of Spices (2005)
Name: Mistress of Spices
Director: Paul Mayeda Berges
Did I watch this recently? Yes
Tilo (Aishwarya Rai) is an immigrant from India who runs a spice store in San Fransisco and is also the “Mistress of Spices.” She has the ability to see into customers’ lives and desires. As a mistress of spices, there are certain rules that she has to obey in order for the spices to work their magic on her customers. She must never leave the store, never touch another human, and love only the spices. When handsome American Doug – an enigmatic man with a secret past – enters her store, Tilo’s own desires for love and affection are awoken. She begins to fall for Doug and as she becomes closer to him, the spices her other customers have purchased become defective. The more Tilo falls for Doug and defies the rules, the worse the lives of her customers become. Tilo has to decide whether she will choose Doug over devotion to her spices and Indian traditions.
Don’t kill me. But I didn’t hate it.
I know i’m supposed to, but i found it overall not a bad timepass. It has its huge weaknesses sure, but i didn’t hate it as much as i thought i would.
I’ve read many complaints about this film – Aishwarya’s wooden acting (wow thats a new one) and the lack of chemistry between Aishwarya & Dylan Mc Dermott (Tilo & Doug). In fact one BBC review called Aishwarya’s acting ‘Wishy Washy’ which i have to semi-disagree and semi-agree about. Aishwarya’s acting was very subtle and a bit lifeless which i attribute to her characters repressed and sheltered nature and i think she could still emote in enough places of the film to do a passable job so she wasn’t as horrendous as other reviewers made her out to be. Any Aishwarya fans will know if anything her problem is with overacting, so for her to have a retrained and subtle performance i believe was on purpose. Mind you this wasn’t her best performances. As for the chemistry between Tilo & Doug i would have to disagree. I must admit i got sucked into wanting them together, in some scenes when they couldn’t touch I could feel some sparks – but maybe it was just me?
For me there are two big downfalls of this film. One is the climax. This movie really builds up for the review how catastrophic the result would be if Tilo (Aishwarya) disobeys the rules as the Mistress of Spices. Even after she disobeys some of the rules it really doesn’t live up to its promise. Its quite a weak climax overall and a too neatly tied up ending. Second is any message they really wanted to send i didn’t receive. The movie didn’t really have a strong message to convey, there were a couple of small messages that just weren’t executed strongly enough like the taxi-driver, school child and grandfathers issues involving Indians in a foreign country, issues of assimilation but all was not conveyed strongly enough. The issues/messages were kind of everywhere.
Something a bit offputting was the voice over of Aishwarya talking to the spices. It was a bit wierd, but i guess its hard to put on film her talking to the spices. It can also offer some good giggles of her constantly talking to the chilies, even fighting with them. As one viewer said the voice over is very ‘Animal Planet’ and i have to agree.
One other issue is its like the Indian version of Chocolat involving Spices instead of Chocolate. It didn’t really have anything to offer in terms of story that Chocolat did better.
Overall Score: 2.5/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – Overall an O.K film that I believe is not as bad as people make it out to be. Passable acting by Aishwarya and Dylan McDermott. Strengths lay with the chemistry of Dylan & Aishwarya as Tilo and Doug and of course Aishwarya looking gorgeous. But the greatest downfall is the screenplay and thin story.