Saturday, August 09, 2008
Sony's "Brick Lane" is another drama about 9/11 and the Islamic community (in Britain)
There have been a couple of other epic independent films centered on Islam, and “Brick Lane” fits the bill, slightly shorter than “Yacoubian Building” or “In the Name of God”, and this one from a better known corporate distributor, Sony Pictures Classics. Directed by Sarah Gavron (for production company Film4 and the UK Film Council), it’s based on the novel by Monica Ali.
The film takes place in Bangladesh and London. A flat, tidal coastal area of India was used to simulate Pakistan. After her mother drowns in a pond, Nazneem (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is sent to London for an arranged marriage with an obese flim-flam man Chanu Ahmed (Satish Kaushik). She quickly learns how Islamic culture defines value for men in terms of mandatory family responsibility (regardless of what one “chooses”). She brings in a sewing machine into her flat, and Chanu objects, but then relents and borrows money from an underground usurer to buy a computer to “go on the Web.” Eventually, the exorbitant payments are to go for funding a local radical mardrassah. The film shows the flats as multi-level brick buildings with walkups and landings at each level, not particularly secure. Nanzneem starts falling an attractive younger man Karim (Christopher Simpson, who is not from India despite appearances).
9/11 happens, and the WTC destruction is shown in embedded videos. Then the family has to deal with the local pressure on the Muslim community and consider returning to Bangladesh. Chanu starts to show some wisdom, opposing the radicalism of a local London mosque but loyal to his original family in Bangladesh. He says to Karim, that young men want all things to be possible, but older men need some things to be certain. Yet, Nanzeem has to deal with the fact that Karim probably would make a much better husband and father in the long run.
This is a compact but big-looking film, in full 2.35 to 1 anamorphic Panavision.
The film has no relation to a 2003 short of the same name from Paul Makkar.