Ray excells himself in this wonderfully sensitive rites-of-passage film. A group of friends in their twenties take a short vacation in the countryside together. After some confusion about their accommodation they find themselves staying near to two respectable young women of good family who stimulate their interest. Although the women appear not too interested at first, things change, and they all begin to spend time together. Each of the characters is profoundly different from the others, and it soon becomes clear that they have different goals - and perhaps needs - in life. That does not prevent an extraordinary sexual chemistry from developing which is all the more vivid for being understated and unspoken. The picnic scene where the girls suggest they all play a literary game is replete with poignantly repressed sexuality. As the film develops the four men begin to go their separate ways, but for the two women (and for one especially) the encounter with the men has stimulated feelings it is difficult to ignore. This is a film of extraordinary subtlety and depth. A classic of world cinema by one of the cinema's greatest directors, it deserves much greater recognition.
Arannyer Din Ratri
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