BFI London Film Festival: Margarita, with a Straw (2014)


Inspired by her personal understanding of cerebral palsy, the disability that her own sister had suffered from, director Shonali Bose brought to life a beautiful and consistently heartfelt story of the confusion, joys and wonders of growing up, conflicting with the desire to fit in with her feature film directorial debut, Margarita, with a Straw.

Determined to not let her cerebral palsy interfere with her life, rebellious young woman Laila (Kalki Koechlin) moves from the familiar territory of her home in India to study in the unpredictable town of New York City. Suddenly having been granted the freedom and independence she’d always longed for, she embarks on a surprising journey of sexual discovery through the ups and downs of life and love, all the while keeping up appearances so as to not worry her overbearing yet loving mother (Revathy) who, unbeknownst to Laila, is hiding a tragic secret herself.

Evoking a rollercoaster of emotions from the audience, from tears to laughter to fear, Margarita, with a Straw is a touching story crafted with pure honesty and love. Koechlin gives a powerhouse performance, carefully performing with a gentility and perception that captures the audience with her every move. Revathy, too, acts with a subtle intensity, creating a more genuine side to what could easily have been a character played to an unrealistic extreme. Sayani Gupta, who plays a blind woman that Laila befriends and, consequently enters into a relationship with, is a stunning addition to the cast and has an undeniable chemistry with Koechlin that is witnessed in every exchange between the two.

As the film progresses, there are revealed to be more storylines than expected and some seem rather abrupt, creating a slight disconnection for viewers, but, nevertheless, Margarita, with a Straw is a gem of a film thats captures the audience’s hearts from start to finish.

Rating: ★★★★

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