Bhowani Junction

Bhowani Junction ★★★★

Bhowani Junction presents an Anglo-Indian woman's ethnic identity crisis as a reflection of larger social and political struggles within India as certain forces fight for the country's independence from British rule in the mid-1940s. Such a conception might sound overly pat and didactic on the face of it, but director George Cukor focuses so intensely on the tortured anguish of its central figure, Victoria Jones (Ava Gardner), that the film gradually reveals itself to be that rare thing: a truly intimate epic, one in which its grand historical backdrop and the vast scale of Freddie Young's CinemaScope color cinematography are never allowed to dwarf the deeply human concerns at its heart. Rarely has the intersection between the political and the personal been essayed with such intelligent directness and affecting honesty as here.