There's a lot to like in Ali's latest, Highway, which is a gorgeously assembled, ambitious piece of work, although it doesn't coalesce into a holistically successful film.
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Ali has a deft hand in creating a fantasy world based on the classical Sita-Ravana model, and gives Bhatt free rein to project herself with unabashed teenage appeal.
The cinematographer Anil Mehta’s lovely, unfussy images ground the film and show us a good bit of India... Mr. Ali’s story, though, wanders too long and too far, sometimes coming off like a forced mash-up of “It Happened One Night” and “Patty Hearst.”
Tracing a journey of self-discovery through six North Indian states without a formal script, Ali’s actors, like his characters, effectively improvise in a meandering present tense, stripped of any viable destination.
The degree to which Highway candies up Veera's slumming toward freedom feels so fundamentally out of touch with the realities of poverty that it skirts into offensiveness.