Review: PHOTOGRAPH Is A Quaint Romance That Takes Advantage Of Its Setting


A romance film with a beautiful setting, Photograph is easy enough to watch but could have used some better character development.
Technical Merit

Photograph is a new Indian romantic drama film written and directed by Ritesh Batra. The film tells the story of a street photographer in Mumbai who convinces a shy stranger to pose as his fiancée because of his grandmother pressuring him to marry. It debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

This film stands out from other Indian films because of its relatively small scale. Films from India are typically grand romances with huge musical numbers and a sometimes overwhelmingly stylized nature. Instead, this film opts for a more minimalistic approach with a human touch, allowing it to resonate emotionally more than you would expect. There are a few cheesy romance moments, but they still mostly work, unlike what is the case in most films from the country.

However, even though the film feels relatively fresh for what it is, the story isn’t particularly creative or original. The film really doesn’t explore the central motif of the photograph enough for that to be effective, and much of the plot is based on Hollywood tropes rather than Bollywood tropes. Although you may have some interest in the characters’ predicament towards the beginning of the film, this will soon fade, as the film doesn’t do a good enough job of establishing or explaining why the conflict has impact.

Additionally, the film doesn’t do a particularly good job of developing its characters. It is essential to have to compelling lead characters for a film like this to work, and the two leads are so archetypal that it is hard to feel any connection to them. The film needed to more effectively incorporate subplots in order to fix this. For example, the character Miloni would have been far more compelling had we spent more time exploring her life outside of the relationship.

Furthermore, Batra didn’t seem to be able to find the right balance to pace his film. You can tell that he is trying to infuse a sense of realism into the film, but as is often said, real life is boring. A film can still feel real even if it cuts out some of the more mundane events in the characters’ experiences. It feels almost as if the film spent its time in the wrong places. The film is a good length, but we don��t get to spend enough time with the characters together. Some of the fluff should have been cut to give their relationship more time to grow.

That being said, the two leads in the film both do a pretty solid job in their roles. Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra have great chemistry together, and that is really the only thing that allows the film to sell the relationship to the audience. That being said, they are definitely better together than when they are apart. Malhotra particularly struggles with her solo scenes, her delivery feeling somewhat wooden and drawing you out of the story.

Batra obviously has a great eye, though, as he makes the film look more beautiful than any film about a middle-class romance has the right to be. Despite (or perhaps indirectly resulting from) the film’s personal and down-to-Earth story, the production values of the film are quite high. The cinematography is great, particularly when it features some of the beautiful landmarks of Mumbai. The film also has a golden glow to it that is very aesthetically-pleasing, especially for a romance.

Overall, Photograph was an unexpectedly subtle, but still flawed foreign romance film. It is worth checking out, especially since it will eventually end up on Amazon Prime.

Photograph is now playing in select theaters..


The Lovebirds’ Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae Break Down the Horse Scene Shot by Shot | Netflix

THE LOVEBIRDS stars Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae take a second look at their action-packed horse kick bacon grease escape scene from their new comedy. Watch The Lovebirds, Only on Netflix: SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 183 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV…

DC’s Stargirl | S.T.R.I.P.E. | Season Trailer | The CW

Stream new episodes of DC's Stargirl Wednesdays free only on The CW: SUBSCRIBE: About DC's Stargirl: DC’s Stargirl follows high school sophomore Courtney Whitmore as she inspires an unlikely group of young heroes to stop the villains of the past. This new drama reimagines DC’s Stargirl and the very first superhero team, the…

The Kissing Booth | Exclusive Deleted Scenes | Netflix

If you were curious what moments hit the cutting room floor, wonder no longer! Here are a few deleted scenes that didn't make the final cut of The Kissing Booth. SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 183 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries…

What We Do In The Shadows | Season 2 Ep. 7: Simon the Sewer Dweller Highlight | FX

One human, alcohol beer please. Subscribe now for more What We Do in the Shadows clips: What We Do in the Shadows follows four vampires who’ve “lived” together for hundreds of years. In Season 2, the vampires will try to find their way in a world of human Super Bowl parties, internet trolls, an…

Drag Queens Trixie Mattel & Katya React to Too Hot to Handle | I Like to Watch | Netflix

Drag queens Trixie Mattel and Katya react to scenes from the Netflix series Too Hot to Handle, in this episode of "I Like to Watch." Watch Too Hot to Handle, Only on Netflix: SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 183 million paid memberships in over 190 countries…

What Sex Education Sounds Like in Other Languages | Dub Swap | Netflix

Otis may be a decent amateur sex therapist, but can he do it in French? Letʼs find out, when we take your favorite Sex Education characters and "dub swap" their dialogue with various languages from around the world. You might even learn some useful phrases about pigeons along the way! Well ... kinda useful, at…

Outlander | Ep. 12 Clip ‘The Best We Can’ | Season 5 Finale

Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) look towards the future in this clip from the Outlander Season 5 finale. Catch up on all seasons of Outlander only on STARZ. #Outlander #STARZ Watch Outlander now on the STARZ App: Subscribe now for more Outlander content: Like Outlander on Facebook: Follow Outlander on Twitter:…

Welcome To Chechnya (2020): Official Trailer | HBO

From Academy Award-nominated director David France (How to Survive a Plague, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson) comes Welcome to Chechnya, a powerful and eye-opening documentary about a group of activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya. With unfettered access and…
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here