The Waiting City


Directed by: Claire McCarthy
Written by:Claire McCarthy
Starring: Radha Mitchell, Joel Edgerton, Samrat Chakrabarti, Isabel Lucas, Tanushree Shankhar
Released: July 15, 2010
Grade: B

I guess Australian director Claire McCarthy likes a challenge.  Instead of shooting her first major film in the comfort of her own country, she’s travelled to India to bring a very personal story to the big screen.  The profiles of Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom) and Radha Mitchell (Finding Neverland) will help lure audiences but the reality is that this film has been made with a predominantly Indian cast and crew.

It’s the story of Fiona (Mitchell) and Ben (Edgerton), an Australian couple who have travelled to India to adopt a child.  They’ve been waiting a long time and on arriving in India, they learn that their wait is going to continue for a few more days.  There’s a delay with the paperwork and they’re forced to sit in their hotel room while waiting for news.

You’d think this would be a happy time for Ben and Fiona but not so.  Their relationship is showing signs of strain.  The Indian heat and Fiona’s lost luggage are doing little to help the situation.  You’ll start to wonder if adopting a child is the best thing for this couple.  Are they doing it because they think it’ll bring them back together?

To its credit, the film goes down some paths that you might not expect.  I do like a movie which offers a few surprises.  I’m sure many will be affected the spiritual elements which come through in the final third.  I also enjoyed the developing friendship between Fiona and an Indian porter (Chakrabarti) who works at their hotel.  They come from completely different backgrounds but they have much to share.

On the flip side, I struggled to understand what point writer-director Claire McCarthy is trying to make when it comes to adopting children from other countries.  There’s one part of the film where she travels to her adopted child’s home village but nothing really comes of it.

I asked Radha Mitchell about this while hosting a question and answer session at the Brisbane premiere.  Her stance was that it’s better to have a mother than not have one.  She’d rather these children find a home in Australian than forever remain in an orphanage in India.  It’s a valid argument but it doesn’t come through strongly enough in the film.

As I continue to point out, films like The Waiting City have a non-existent marketing budget and need all the help they can get to find an audience here in Australia.  This isn’t the best Aussie film of the year but with strong performances and a distinct setting, it warrants your attention.