No Bed of Roses (Doob) weaves a web of feelings born from infidelity
Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s latest lodges a chisel into a rock labelled “unfaithful love.” And during 85 minutes of film, he gently hews away until there’s nothing left.
No Bed of Roses (Doob) trains a plodding lens on infidelity—a subject that’s often only struck with comedic and glancing blows in western cinema—and places us within some of the most uncomfortable moments of a fracturing family in a present-day Bangladesh city. Muted greys and whites hang over each frame, draping an impossible-to-shake malaise over each character’s conversations during some of the lowest points in their lives.
Javed Hasan (played by the ubiquitous Indian star Irrfan Khan) is a surging filmmaker in the prime of his career, but he’s torn between his wife and children, and Nitu (Parno Mittra), a woman who’s studied and competed alongside his eldest daughter since they were young. The film never cuts corners as it explores these divisions. The most affecting parts of the film rely on slow moving pans during lengthy cuts that force the audience to focus on one half of the conversations.
The pained reactions of Javed’s wife Maya (Rokeya Prachy) as he implores her to stop interrogating him about an affair are heard but not seen. Similarly strained gaps in the dialogue consistently afford room for the actors to display genuine hesitation, disappointment, sadness, and pain. When discussions break off, long, smooth shots follow each character around their home as they putter about in fits of despair.
These personal moments are juxtaposed by the prying public eyes that follow Javed’s family and career. For example, his kids sit paralyzed in the back seat of his car as he chews out a newspaper editor on the phone for running tabloid headlines; bystanders ask for his autograph as he tries to hail a cab to get away from Maya; reporters dog his daughter Saberi (Nusrat Imrose Tisha) even during a funeral wake.
Structurally, No Bed of Roses also enhances these tensions with effective time shifts. A nostalgic road trip presents the family as a happy unit before dropping hints at mistrust already brewing. And poignant flashbacks to Saberi and Nitu playing with dolls as children set the stage for the complicated hate they share in the future—a hate that’s cultivated through the social lens of the supporting cast.
The characters’ social status doesn’t immediately come across as essential to core themes of the film, but several pivotal scenes hinge on the interplay between the brooding quiet of one-on-one private family conversations and the studiously awkward presence of domestic servants. When Nitu tries to abscond after spending a night with Javed in his home away from home, she freezes atop the wall she was trying to jump over for what feels like an eternity; it’s not until several seconds later that we see she’s locked eyes with Maya’s servant who is sure to report her actions. In other scenes porters and drivers are stranded in the focus of the frame, fidgeting silently as Maya delivers ominous dialogue to her family from off screen, or Saberi breaks down into tears.
So much of No Bed of Roses wallows in moments of heartbreak that once it slowly arrives at its tragic, but fulfilling climax, it’s impossible not to contemplate the way feelings of love are often dismissed as a binary right or wrong. The freedom the characters eventually achieve definitely isn’t one that every audience will pine for in their own lives, but it’s one that this film tries to convince you not to deny.
Sat., Mar. 3 – Sun., Mar. 4 (1:30 pm and 4 pm)
No Bed of Roses (Doob)
The Princess Theatre