Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts
Starring: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Satish Kaushik, Christopher Simpson
Director: Sarah Gavron
What a lovely film. Skilfully adapted from the highly successful debut novel by Monica Ali this beautifully acted and directed film tells the story of a woman’s internal emotional journey, externally set against a background of increasingly complex racial times.
After her mother’s suicide, 17 year-old Nazneen (Chatterjee) is forcibly sent to the UK to marry an older man, leaving behind her beloved beautiful Bangladeshi village and her sister to become a dutiful wife in an East End council flat. Still struggling to make sense of her life 16 years later, and dreaming of ‘home’, she is repeatedly severely tested by a good-hearted but flawed husband. Finally something gives and she embarks on an affair with a young, radical British Muslim, forcing her to confront who she really is, yet the results are not as cut and dried as they might appear to be.
Set in the pivotal year of 2001 with increased racial tensions against Muslims, the characters are beautifully nuanced, as is the film and its main theme, different types of love. It’s also wonderful to see Chanu (portrayed by comic actor Satish Kaushik), Nazneen’s buffoon of a husband, as not just turned into a humorous caricature but equally being sympathetically portrayed and given a weight it might have been tempting for lesser skilled writers and directors to reduce. And the divergence of Nazneen’s life compared with that of her sister back home in Bangladesh is poignantly drawn.
A graduate of the NFTS, director Sarah Gavron’s star is rising, with the sequences of the evocation of Bangladesh being particularly vivid, imaginative and aesthetically pleasing.