Newest Review: ... they should have gone for, rather than padding it with spices and mysticism. There are no extras with the DVD that I have, so this is ... more
Mistress of Spices, Master of Nothing
The Mistress Of Spices (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
The Mistress Of Spices (DVD)
Advantages: Visually attractive, beautiful lead actors
Disadvantages: Not sure what the point is...
Born in India to poor parents, it is soon discovered that Tilo has special powers - she can foresee the future. After being kidnapped by bandits, she escapes, and is raised by a magical lady, who teaches her the secrets of spices. When she grows up, Tilo moves to San Francisco, where she manages a spice shop, and mixes up to help her customers. As a Mistress of Spices however, there are rules that cannot be broken - she cannot use the power of the spices for her own means, she can never leave the store and she can never touch another person's skin. This causes a problem when she meets and falls in love with an American architect, Doug. Suddenly, she begins to lose power over her spices and her customers suffer in consequence. What will she choose? Her spices, or Doug?
Tilo is played by Aishwarya Rai and is probably the most beautiful leading actress that I have ever seen. She is flawless, with gorgeous eyes, perfect skin and a lovely figure. Unfortunately, she either isn't the best actress in the world, or she wasn't given the opportunity to show us what she is made of. Tilo is, frankly, dull, because all she does is drift around her shop looking gormless. She tries to act with her eyes, but it doesn't quite work, and after a while, I found her slightly annoying. I also struggled to believe in the chemistry that she had with Doug. We are led to believe it was love at first sight on her part, but she begins to look unbalanced at times, whereas I think she was probably going for quirky and adorable.
Dylan McDermott plays Doug and is utterly divine to look at. His acting is competent, but to be fair, he doesn't really have all that much of a role. He appears in the shop at regular intervals and is clearly beginning to fall for Tilo, but there is no depth to the character. I liked him and will definitely look out for him again for eye candy if nothing else, but his acting didn't bowl me over. I was pleased to see Nitin Ganatra as Tilo's friend Haroun. Better known as Masood from Eastenders, he adds a touch of comedy to the film - I just wish he had appeared more often. The British soap opera theme continues with Ayesha Dharker (Tara from Coronation Street) who plays Haroun's neighbour. Again though, she could have brought a lot more to the proceedings had she been given the chance.
One thing I love to visit when I go abroad is the local food markets - especially in areas where they sell lots of spices and other interesting foodstuffs. That was what attracted me to this film, and visually, it certainly provided me with what I was looking for. The perfect red chillis were eye-catching and the range of earthiness of the powdered spices was lovely, especially with Tilo in her colourful saris in front of them. Unfortunately, after the first half hour, it simply wasn't enough to retain my interest. The problem is that Tilo rarely leaves the shop and the visual side of things just doesn't change. There are only so many red chillis and piles of spices that I can admire before I start to need a little bit more. Unfortunately, that wasn't really to come.
The story ought to be original - I certainly can't think of another film revolving around the power of spices before. Nevertheless, there are some similarities to Chocolat - the whole magical power of food and love, for example - but it pales in comparison. There was little explanation as to why Tilo had such powers and it ended up feeling like it was just an attempt to make the film seem original and to cover up the fact that the story was virtually non-existent. The film is based on a book by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, which I haven't read, so have no idea how it translated over, but as a film, the content was too minimal to make a real difference. Even the love affair was boring - just a few shots of the happy couple on a motorbike and then some carefully concealed shots of them having sex.
It sounds as though I hated the film, but I didn't - it is watchable and should keep most women and some men entertained for a couple of hours. And I did like the whole East meets West theme - having had Asian boyfriends in the past, it is something that really interests me. However, I don't think enough time or energy went into looking at cultural differences - it is hinted at, but more in the relationship between one of Tilo's customers' granddaughter and her boyfriend than it is between Tilo and Doug. The film just ends up feeling rather light-weight and pointless. If they wanted to make a love story out of it, then that's what they should have gone for, rather than padding it with spices and mysticism.
There are no extras with the DVD that I have, so this is a film only review.
I really wanted to like this film a lot more than I did. It is visually pleasing and the two lead characters are positively gorgeous to look at, but I need a bit more than that in a film. I think it's worth a glance if it's on television, but I certainly don't think it's worth anyone going out of their way to get hold of a copy. Ultimately it's fluff dressed up and pretending to be something it's not. Three stars out of five.
The DVD is available from play.com for £4.99.
Running time: 92 minutes
Summary: All fluff, little substance