The value of a film like Chris Smith's The Pool becomes more tangible when you begin to imagine what a lesser filmmaker might have wrought from the same material. Extending his sympathy for, and fascination with, the American working class beyond the boundaries of his home country, Smith, the director of American Job, Home Movie, and American Movie, traveled to the small Indian state of Goa, its west coast the shores of the Arabian Sea, to make his latest film.
"The Pool" is an unostentatiously crafted work about the daily travails and aspirations of an Indian teenager working at a hotel in the Goan capital of Panjim to help support his family, who live in an impoverished nearby rural village, and who dreams of something better by enviously staring at a nearby wealthy man's shimmering backyard pool from his tree perch. It could have been either mawkish or too self-consciously aping of a particularly neorealist style; instead Smith avoids both modes of address, using an expressive, incisive, and merely observant camera that rarely, if ever, calls attention to itself.
This doesn't mean that Smith is unburdened by a certain pretense, of course. Click here to read the rest of Michael Koresky's review of The Pool.