Set in 1950s postcolonial southern India, this story, in part about the erasing of the psychological boundaries between two women, doesn’t quite support the weight of its allegory. Mary (Madhur Jaffrey), a nurse in an old British army hospital, makes herself indispensable to Lily (Greta Scacchi) and her newborn child. Mary boasts of having had a British father, implicitly apologizing for having had an Indian mother, as she tries to position herself to share Lily’s apparent entitlement. She joins the small staff of Lily’s household and manages to erode the trust Lily has had for Abraham, a longtime servant played with subtle skill by Prayag Raaj. Mary’s niece has her own way of ingratiating herself into—or being exploited by—the family, but her inevitable affair with Lily’s husband, a BBC journalist who’s always claiming to be on assignment, fragments the story’s perspective. Still, there’s something provocative here—the metaphors may be too strong to be entirely diminished by obviousness or repetition. Ismail Merchant directed a screenplay by Alexandra Viets; with Sakina Jaffrey and James Wilby. 123 min.