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4/5/08

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I feel very lucky to live in a small town, that has a high quality film festival. They Ashland Film Festival gets great films and filmmakers to come to a small town in Oregon. It's one of my favorite weekends of the year. The only unfortunate thing about it, is that it's so short, only five days long, by the time I'm getting into it, it's over. So this year I only got a chance to see two films. Luckily, I did a little research, i.e. watching online movie trailers (see below), and found a film that I thought my wife and I could enjoy. Outsourced turned out to be even better than advertised.

Todd Anderson works as a manager of a call center for a company that sells cheap Americana knick-knacks. In the very first scene of the film he is told that his entire department is being laid off and being moved to India. If he wants to keep his job, his stock options, his security, his only choice is to move to India to help train the replacements. Being a straight-laced kind of guy, he does what his boss tells him. A classic fish-out-of-water set-up.

From the moment he steps off the plane he's out of his element. The people mean him well, but their customs seem strange. His new underling wants the best for him, so he sets him up at a friend's house, instead of a hotel; which throws him off even more, as he's now forced to live like an Indian. When taken to his new office and employees, the place is a total mess, the computers are outdated, the employees untrained. Even worse his company won't let him leave until he gets the call times down to an average of 5 minutes, they now average over 15. He has a seemingly impossible task in front of him, living in a land that is completely unfamiliar.

It's fairly easy to guess where Outsourced is going to go. Todd learns to love India and its customs and then falls in love with Asha, a girl from his office. But this film is not about the destination, it's the journey. It is an utterly charming film, full of wonderfully crafted scenes, consistently funny, and even educational.

It has great performances by the lead actors. Josh Hamilton is one of those actors that has been around for a long time, you see him in a lot of things, probably most recognizable from the classic 90's flick
Kicking and Screaming, but here he gets the rare chance to carry a film and he does it with a ton of charisma. Asha is played by Indian actress Ayesha Dharker, who you might remember from her very small role as the princess who comes after Amidala in Attack of the Clones, again, she gets the rare chance to shine, and proves that she's as talented as she is beautiful.

Writer/Director John Jeffcoat has created a love letter to India. Through Todd's character we get to learn about the beautiful country and people of India. At the opening of the film he's thrown for a loop by a unknown-child sitting on his lap while riding on a crowded train, by the end he's willing to follow a stranger into the slums for an impromptu meal. His turning point comes during the Festival of Color, one of the only days of the year that the Indian people really let loose, throwing bags of paint at each other, it proves to be an opportunity for Todd to finally loosen his tie. The relationship between Todd and Asha feels genuine, and doesn't go exactly how we expect. Outsourced isn't the kind of film that slaps you in the face, it slowly comes over you, and by the end you'll fall in love with it. - Grade: A-



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