Maya (Mia Hansen-Love, 2018): France

Film Reviewed by Jordan Barr. Viewed at AFI Film Festival 2018.

Maya, directed by Mia Hansen Love, is a journey of self discovery and freedom. It opens with a powerful shot of Gabriel, played by Roman Kolinka, showering in a hotel. His back is covered in dark bruises and he appears to be in poor health. Viewers later learn that he is a reporter who was held hostage in Syria, and he has just returned to his life in Paris after being freed. Gabriel is surprisingly unemotional considering his situation and after a conversation with one of his fellow hostages, he decides to travel to India and take a hiatus from his previous life. 

Gabriel ends up reconnecting with an old friend while visiting India and this leads to him meeting  Maya, a restless, adventurous young woman. Maya, played by the relatively unknown actress Aarshi Banerjee, is the daughter of Gabriel’s friend. Gabriel and Maya spark up a friendship which hints at something romantic, and Maya takes Gabriel on an authentic journey through India. 

Hansen Love has an interesting style of filmmaking and it’s not intended for the average movie-goer. The movie is beautifully shot, but the pace is painfully slow. She seems to attempt to utilize visual storytelling rather than dialogue, yet the dialogue is vague and lacks depth. This film has tons of potential and an intriguing story but it falls short because of it’s weak storyline. There are so many points in the narrative that could have been very powerful and moving and these moments are left underdeveloped, which was disappointing. The two main characters lacked chemistry and the dialogue between them was stiff. 

The cinematography, by Hélène Louvart, is the redeeming quality of this movie. The shots of India are breathtaking and incredibly authentic to Indian culture. I love the fact that Gabriel travels all over India so that viewers get a taste of the diverse country. Gabriel’s film montage was my favorite part of the film.  Overall, this film left me wanting more and I wouldn’t recommend it to most but If someone was planning a trip to India, It would be a great way to get a glimpse of India’s beauty. 


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