Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Trishna Movie Poster Image
Dreary novel-based tragedy set in India has sex, violence.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 117 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Trishna is about dealing with the problem of poverty, but it doesn't suggest any positive or helpful methods; everything the characters do is tragic, selfish, and depressing.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Trishna is a victim and a doormat, entering into a relationship for its economic benefits but suffering from its physical demands. By the end, she takes only two actions, both of them severely negative.


Two characters are stabbed, with some spurting blood. One character commits suicide. There are sex scenes that border on rape (the woman is upset and/or in pain). There's also a car crash with a little blood. Also various scenes of tension and/or arguing.


No nudity, but lots of kissing and several obvious sex acts between the two lead characters. At first, the sex is consensual, but eventually it becomes more one-sided as the woman unwillingly gives in to the man's urges. A man reads the "Kama Sutra"; viewers see a couple of pictures. A woman talks about having an abortion.


Language is infrequent, but in one scene, a character uses "f--k" three times, as well as "hell," "son of a bitch," and "bastard." In an opening scene, characters listen to a song that includes "bitch," repeated several times in the lyrics.


A Corona beer is shown, and a Levi's billboard can be seen in a cityscape shot.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are seen drinking socially (cocktails or beer) and smoking cigarettes. In one scene, some men pass around a cigarette that's probably pot, but nothing is mentioned, and there are no druggy effects.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Trishna is a re-working of Thomas Hardy's classic novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, set in modern-day India. It's about a poor woman who becomes a tragic victim after being trapped in a relationship with a wealthy man. There's some isolated bloody violence, as well a car crash and uncomfortable sex scenes that border on rape. There's no nudity, but plenty of obvious sex acts between the two lead characters. Language is very infrequent, but one minor character uses several swear words in the space of one scene, including "f--k," and a song is heard that repeats the word "bitch." Characters drink and smoke cigarettes socially (and, it's suggested, smoke pot as well). The film is dry and depressing, and though some Thomas Hardy fans may admire it, many teens won't be interested.

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What's the story?

Trishna (Freida Pinto) is the eldest daughter of a poor Indian family. While dancing one night, she meets Jay (Riz Ahmed), the son of a wealthy hotel man. He offers her a job in a hotel, which she desperately needs, since a traffic accident has left her father bedridden. Trishna becomes Jay's lover, but because of social pressures, Jay is forced to keep their relationship a secret. Eventually the relationship becomes unhealthy and quasi-abusive, and Trishna is forced to make a tough decision.

Is it any good?

Director Michael Winterbottom is clearly smitten with India in TRISHNA, offering long, loving shots of cityscapes and decorative postcard shots of countrysides. Often, he also spends long moments following his characters moving from one place to another, even if nothing else is happening. For local color, there are even a few scenes of dancers performing Bollywood-style moves. Unfortunately, after all this, he forgets to spend much time actually telling his story or getting to know his characters.

The result is a dry, inert, frustrating, and boring experience, more detours than drama. When Jay finally expresses his love and longing for his leading lady, the scene fizzles. Her response is dead-eyed, and therefore, there's no romantic or emotional arc to their relationship. It's totally dreary, and as it slides downhill, the story seems more inevitable than tragic. Fans of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles may find something worthwhile here, but most others shouldn't bother.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Trishna's sexual relationship. Does it seem consensual? At what point does it turn from romantic to oppressive? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • Why did Trishna resort to violence? Did she have any other options to change her situation?

  • How does this movie differ from the Thomas Hardy novel it's based on? Are the changes interesting? How?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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