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  Publicity Stills of "Brick Lane"
(Courtesy from GV)

* WINNER of UK Talent Award, London Film Festival
* WINNER of Audience Award, Dinard British Film Festival
* WINNER - Best Script Award, Dinard British Film Festival
* WINNER - CICAE Award, San Sebastian International Film Festival
* Norminated for Best Actress, British Independent Film Award
* Norminated for Best Director, British Independent Film Award
* Norminated for Most Promising Newcomer, British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards

Genre: Drama
Director: Sarah Gavron
Cast: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Satish Kaushik, Zafreen, Christopher Simpson
RunTime: 1 hr 42 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: NC-16 (Scenes of Intimacy)
Official Website: http://www.bricklanemovie.co.uk/

Opening Day: 6 March 2008 (Exclusively at GV Vivo)


"Brick Lane" tells the story of a beautiful young Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen (Chatterjee), who left her beloved sister and home for a marriage and new life in 1980s London. She ends up in a loveless marriage with the middle aged Chanu (Kaushik). Her sister Hasina (Zafreen), meanwhile, continues to live a carefree life back in Bangladesh. Nazneen struggles to accept her lifestyle but she soon discovers that life cannot be avoided - and is forced to confront it the day that the hotheaded young Karim (Simpson) comes knocking at her door.

Movie Review:

Indian Diaspora: we have seen movies about them before. Think sports comedy Bend It Like Beckham (2002), musical extravaganza Bride and Prejudice (2004) and family drama The Namesake (2006), and you’d get an idea of how Indians adapt to a totally different culture whilst living abroad. In this Sarah Gavron-directed film based on a novel by Monica Ali, we see how a Bangladeshi woman lives her life in Brick Lane, a long street in London which is home to the Bangladeshi community in the city.

Like many other stories about the Indian Diaspora, the female protagonist here comes from a rural village where life is simpler and possibly happier. An arranged marriage brings her to the modern city of London, and she is brought into believing that life is going to be better. As years go by, as her two daughters grow up, as she meets a handsome young man, she begins realizing what living life is all about, and ponders whether she really wants to go home to Bangladesh.

It’s only obvious that such a dramatic plot originated from a novel, and it takes a fine writer like Laura Jones (Angela’s Ashes) and Abi Morgan (Tsunami: The Aftermath) to delicately bring the characters to life on the big screen. The sensitive depiction of the female lead is the anchor of the movie, as you see the people around her shape her life. There is her obese husband who is conflicted between being the man of the house and preserving traditional values. There are her two daughters who are fast adapting to the liberal cultures of the Western world. There is the young and idealistic man whom she has a fleeting affair with. There is the sister who is still living in Bangladesh whom she regularly writes to. And most importantly, there is the world around her which is constantly evolving.

It takes a fine actress to portray this role, and Tannishtha Chatterjee has beautifully brought this character’s anguish, woes, hopes and dreams to an engagingly touching level. The provokingly heartfelt performance from the actress will have you empathizing with her situation in a land she cannot truly call home. Watch out for a scene where she learns of the infamous 9-11 attacks – the dramatic development in her character is subtle yet powerful.

The film’s cinematography boasts of lush shades of red, blue and green. The pleasing shots of padi fields, sparkling rivers and the breathtaking nature in the Bangladeshi village is nicely contrasted with Brick Lane’s harshly constructed buildings, awkwardly congested lanes and its shady residents. Together with the need for society to progress with technology (watch out for the sequence where the family welcomes home a computer with Internet connection), you can feel the evident cultural tension.

There are also snippets of humor in this 102-minute movie. Cleverly written one-liners will make you sit up and realize how head-on cultures can clash with each other. Stereotypes and perceptions of others are also thought-provoking notions that will be lingering in your mind after seeing another formulaic but emotionally engaging movie about Indian Diaspora.

Movie Rating:

(Although not new in genre, the well-made film is delicate and inspiring at the same time)

Review by John Li


. Saawariya (2007)

. The Namesake (2007)

. Water (2006)

. Mistress of Spices (2006)

. Bride & Prejudice (2004)

. Bollywood 101 (Article)

. Bollywood: Behind the scenes, Beyond the Stars (Book)

. Krrish (Soundtrack)

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