Patang has its heart in the right place. American director Prashant Bhargava spent significant time in the Indian city of Ahmedabad, gathering details for his film about an annual kite festival that takes place there, yet the end result still feels like a travelogue. When those hundreds of kites are in the air, the movie gazes with inert wonder. The narrative always feels at a distance. Outsiders can make art within an unfamiliar culture – I’d argue Danny Boyle managed it with Slumdog Millionaire, whose visual style Bhargava self-consciously apes – but that doesn’t happen here. Even as we become involved in the drama of an estranged family whose members have reunited for the festival, a crucial sense of authenticity is missing. The characters remain faces on a brochure.
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