Audiences who know Michael Winterbottom as the director of such wry Brit flicks as "24 Hour Party People" and "The Trip" may be surprised by his latest release, "Trishna," a melodramatic adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" set in modern-day India. Freida Pinto plays the title character, a poor but beautiful girl from rural Rajasthan whose affair with a half-English hotel heir (Riz Ahmed) lifts her out of her life of drudgery, only to deposit her in a fresh (if better-decorated) hell. The exotic locations give audiences plenty to "ooh" and "ah" at, and the elaborate rules of Indian society -- both in conservative Rajasthan and permissive Mumbai -- lend contemporary credibility to Hardy's 19th-century storyline. Pinto's Trishna, meanwhile, is a haunting if frequently frustrating feminine icon, utterly hemmed in by her low status -- except during one fateful moment.
Last night at the I.F.C. Center in Manhattan, an altogether liberated Pinto attended a special screening of "Trishna" hosted by the Cinema Society, designer Rachel Roy, and the jewelry company Circa. I.F.C. Films president Jonathan Sehring introduced the actress with a charming story about how his teenage sons think she's "the most beautiful woman in the world," which turned semi-creepy when Pinto waved to them and said, "Are they the ones I made the video for?" ("It was a nice video!" she quickly clarified.) "Reserved" signs attached to the vast majority of seats in the theater promised a glittering group, but not every bold-faced name materialized.
After the film, guests made their way to Jimmy, the indoor-outdoor party space at the James Hotel in SoHo, to sip D'Usse Cognac cocktails, stare at each other and try not to fall in the miniature swimming pool. Pinto held court at the indoor bar, a few stools away from Russell Simmons and former Miss Angola Leila Lopes, while Alex Karpovsky of "Girls" hung by the pool with Zosia Mamet, who erased her height disadvantage by standing on a piece of patio furniture. But enough descriptions: onto the photos!
(And for a great HuffPost interview with director Michael Winterbottom, go here.)
Correction: A previous version of this article stated, "Calvin Klein even dared to take the seat set aside for Robert De Niro." Calvin Klein went to the screening with Drena De Niro, making his seat choice not so daring after all.