From the story to the colors, Brick Lane was a great film to watch. It not only transported you to another world, but it incorporated the viewer, who may not have an expansive understanding Bangladeshi culture, into the journey.
What makes it so great is it’s in-depth, realistic, simplicity that nearly anyone can relate to. It is a story about real people, real problems, without the unnecessary emotional manipulation that many “dramatic-love” films have. Far too often films portray characters in these situations as larger than life individuals, but the truth is they’re not, and with Brick Lane, one is able to relate to the characters, through their honest ways of handling their situations. Although the film deals largely with the Indian tradition, it is really universal. I, an argumentative, work-aholic western female, felt I was able to relate not only to the lead woman’s character who was taught to never question and “endure” the problems her life, but also to the societal pressures the husband felt.
The film is basically a story of an Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen (played by Tannishtha Chatterjee) finding her own independence in a world that has only ever told her to obey. The film managed to pull off many different plots without ever getting confusing, which is a feat in itself. Although at some points I would have wanted a bit more clarity, I think overall they did a good job at representing the book. The screenplay was very well adapted, which is rarely done. I think many people have become used to hearing “the book was so much better than the film” and although I would still have to agree with that statement, the film does a great job at covering a wide range of emotions, character development, and details that are in the book, and in the end, does the book proud.
One of my favorite parts about this film was although there was a lot of drama, it was never over the top. Far too often, films like to over-do dramatic scenes, forcing the emotions onto the audience. The truth is, yes life gets dramatic, but even some of our biggest moments in life are not as big as films often portray. In Brick Lane, there are realistic responses to difficult situations that are done softly and beautifully. The huge moments in the film are represented in a glance that will break you, or a slide of the hand that will give you hope.
The film deals with issues of 9/11 from a different perspective. It’s in he background, how it is/was for many immigrants at the time. They had to continue their jobs and lives with this enormous weight hanging over their shoulders. For those from Bangladesh, the challenges were tremendous. Muslim become a threatening and frightening word for many who did not understand what was going on. Those living in the UK as well the US were now being attacked for the same beliefs they has only moments before the planes crashed into the Twin Tours. Yet in a time a tragedy, confusion, and search for independence, Nanzeen finds what she is searching for, a place to call home.
The characters in the films, as in the book were extremely well rounded. There was no right choice or wrong choice to be made, as in real life, there are simply ways of dealing with the path ahead of you, which will always have bumps in it. Right or wrong becomes merely a matter of momentary perception easily changed by ones current surroundings. You can never judge a person by their actions, until you know what their situation is and then it is still impossible to decide. Is cheating on your husband wrong? Is pursuing your own dream wrong? What if it hurts someone else? What if the only reason why it hurts you is because you’ve told it’s meant to hurt you but you don’t feel it yourself? With circumstances like this, how is anyone supposed to make the “right” choice, especially when they have no clue who they really are.
Nanzeen, really had no options. She, unlike her her sister, was forced into marriage and told how lucky she was. She writes letters to her sister throughout the film, letters which Nanzeen wishes she could be more like her sister. Yet in the end, she realizes “they” the ones she rebelled against were actually right, she was the lucky one. Her sister may not have been sent off, but she was never given a choice either and her life is not the wonderful dream that she had hoped it would be. Both of them, taking different paths have ended in the same position.
Our lead character struggles to find her voice and find out where she belongs. In the beginning we see her with this obese, disrespectful, fairly disgusting individual, yet she “endures.” It almost seems the the audience is cheering her on to cheat on her husband. Yet it’s hard to decipher who is the right or wrong choice. Her husband, once the enemy, now shines for the first time. The husband stands up for what is right in the world, while her young lover allows for passion to control his life. And as much as I am one for women’s rights, you truly start to understand the hardships of the men’s position in the film. They are told that women can’t do anything and that they must be strong in order for any of them to survive. The husband did not decide he wanted to feel that way towards women, he was taught to. By the end of the film you start to feel that even if he wanted to treat her differently, how could he do anything else without breaking his tradition which he holds so dear. He was taught that he should lead his family and that they should honor and respect him, and even though he may “control” his family, his weak smile shows that what he really wants is for them to love him and he has no clue how to make that happen.
I really enjoyed to acting in this film. Nanzeen was endearing and quietly strong. Christopher Simpson, plays Karim, the young man she has an affair with. Charming and passionate, he does a great job with his role. The husband, Chanu, played by Satish Kaushik, is perfectly horrible and sad at the same time. You want to hate him at times until you realize how lost and desperate he is. In his family, he is the one who is ousted. So he works harder, hoping that respect and knowledge will save him, but everyone knows he’s a failure. My favorite part is, is that even though you understand this, you never really like him. You pity him, you feel bad for him, but you never really side with him.
The film comes out June 20th in limited theaters around LA you can check here for times and tickets.