“The Disciple”


Metacritic (6/10), Rotten Tomatoes (***)

When an aspiring Indian classical musician struggles to hone his craft, mostly under the tutelage of masters who demand unattainable perfection, he succumbs to doubt, frustration and disillusionment that he’ll never reach his goal, feelings made worse when he witnesses others attain success with relative ease. The problem here, though, is that the screenplay fails to bring out these qualities as definitively as it could have due to its somewhat underdeveloped, occasionally unbalanced attempt to straddle the fence between expository drama and character study. To its credit, director Chaitanya Tamhane’s second feature includes a wealth of mesmerizing classical Indian pieces (perhaps even bordering on a few too many at the expense of the narrative), a beautiful palette of photographic effects, a collection of intriguing voiceover insights about the relationship between music and the divine, and a strong finish in the film’s closing 30 minutes. However, the picture’s failure to resolve certain story threads and its sometimes-hazy focus on the core plot keep this offering from living up to the potential it might have otherwise achieved.