Review: Brick Lane C

A Film Review By Stefan Vlahov

**This review may contain spoilers**

I’m usually the last to complain about films with female directors, but the way Sarah Gavron treats Monica Ali’s subtle and largely preach-free novel “Brick Lane” makes her film a prime example of why femininity is a dangerous movement. To clear up – the writer Ali never wanted her book to be about the liberation of her main character – a young Bangladeshi woman named Nazneem (Tannishtha Chatterjee) living in London – whether that liberation is sexual or otherwise. All Ali wanted to write about was the culture clash that Nazneem experiences by the change brought upon her by an arranged marriage, and the confusion that it brings about in her life. But Gavron seemingly was not ready to commit to the material strongly enough to make this film anything more than one about sexual frustration and female liberalization that we see so often come out of Hollywood these days. Gavron’s ill-founded treatment of Nazneem’s relationship with a husband she was forced to marry – Chanu (Satish Kaushik), and with her secret lover Karim (Christopher Simpson) forces all the subtlety out of the story and makes the woman’s plight for an equal social status the central focus of the story, leaving the culture clash part of the book, which is arguably the main reason Nazneem goes through all of this, on the back-burner. And at the end when Nazneem realizes she was wrong about both Chanu and Karim, the audience is told that it was not because of her miscalculation of either man’s character, but because of their unfair action towards her, which screams of the worst kind of feminist attitude since In the Land of Women. It is a shame too, that this ghastly handling of the story squanders such fine performances by all the cast members. Chatterjee is such a strong actress that at the end of the film, when the film hits its emotional peak, she brings tears to our eyes – something that the film as a whole does not deserve. She is one of those actresses that can make the audience emotional just by using her amazingly well-timed delivery. Her male counterparts, Kaushik and Simpson, are also excellent and try hard to make their roles more than just the living cliches that the script forces them to be. The technical aspects of the film are also very good, especially the editing by Melanie Oliver and the cinematography by Robbi Ryan whose Red Road proved that she is one to watch. But I can’t find myself to recommend this film on those positive aspects alone. In fact noticing them makes viewing it that much more frustrating.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s