Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 18
  2. Negative: 2 out of 18
  1. Not only is it Merchant's best directorial effort to date but also is among the finest films the Merchant Ivory company has ever made.
  2. Increasingly piquant tale of culture clash in 1954 post-independence India.
  3. 80
    Impeccably produced.
  4. Acted with almost maniacal force by Jaffrey, Mary is at once fascinating and despicable.
  5. Merchant brings keen insight and rich humanity to this culturally revealing tale of psychological unease in a tense postcolonial world.
  6. Serves as a fascinating exploration of racial and social prejudice; and an indictment of cultural miscegenation.
  7. Really just a lurid potboiler.
  8. 63
    Uncommonly well-acted and beautifully shot on location in southern India, but it's not exactly riveting.
  9. 60
    It's unlikely that anyone will walk away unmoved.
  10. 60
    Brought to life by the weirdness of its subject matter and the risks Madhur Jaffrey takes in her brilliant performance.
  11. An unsubtle allegory about a way of life withering on the vine.
  12. 50
    Doesn't quite support the weight of its allegory.
  13. 50
    Wants to make larger points, but succeeds only in being a story of derangement.
  14. Most of its characters come off as being one-dimensional and stereotypical, and the film's sensibility leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.
  15. 40
    Richer and cleverer than any Merchant Ivory movie in memory.
  16. Nothing but tarted-up melodrama.
  17. 30
    Forlorn melodrama, which is low on drama and high on mellow.
  18. Reviewed by: Steve Simels
    A creepily unpleasant study of race and class.

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