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Looking for a Father, Navigating Mumbai in That Girl in Yellow Boots

Ruth (Kalki Koechlin), a 20-year-old half-Indian, British-born girl on her own in Mumbai, has a habit of talking about her absentee father while she's giving handjobs at the massage parlor where she works. It may safely be said that Ruth has problems with men. Koechlin, who co-wrote That Girl in Yellow Boots with director Anurag Kashyap, is in very nearly every scene of the film, which amounts to a character study. Having waded into the lower depths to find her Indian father, Ruth presents a contrary but not-unknown combination of self-sustaining competence and recklessness. A foreigner, she has learned to command Hindi and to negotiate the system of bribes and kickbacks through which Indian bureaucracy operates. At the same time, she has an uncanny ability to magnetically attract men who are either parasitic, like her cokehead boyfriend (Prashant Prakash), or predatory, like the low-level gangster (Gulshan Devaiya) who takes Ruth's savings to pay for his screw-ups. (Devaiya's thug is a well-played sketch of insecurity fringed with menace.) Koechlin, a striking woman with a slim frame, horse mouth, and big turbulent eyes, has screen presence enough to kick along the frequently-stalling psychodrama up to an ending that seems like a tossing up of hands.


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