The folks at Indie Memphis and the Brooks either have good luck or a great sense of anticipation. As part of the museum's Film Festival Favorites, there's a screening of The Pool, a film set in India with an all-Indian cast. Unless you've been living in myopia, you know that India is the hottest fad of a nation since Brazil, as evinced by Sunday's Slumdog Millionaire Academy Awards invasion.
Would it be crazy to say that a little indie movie that premiered at Sundance two years ago is better than the sitting Best Picture? Crazy, maybe, but true. The Pool is set in modern-day Goa and follows Venkatesh (18 years old) and Jhangir (11) as they scrape together money while performing a variety of jobs around town. The narrative is often propelled by conversations between these and a few other main characters as they perform manual labor. In his timeoff, Venkatesh likes to spy on an unused swimming pool in the back of a large home.
The Pool is co-written, photographed, and directed by American Chris Smith, who's made two movies very much of his homeland: American Movie and American Job. Jhangir utters a line that might be the reason Smith was drawn to this story: "Outside of India, everything is American."
Though The Pool represents a big departure for Smith geographically, it feels intrinsically of the place where it's set. All the characters share names with the actors, and there's a cinéma vérité feel at work, even in scenes with actors exchanging dialogue on a closed set. You get a very real sense of what it takes to live this life, and the camera lovingly records this film's small, well-told tale.
The Pool screens at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, February 24th.