Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Brick Lane

Review by David Tredler 
Hollywood actresses often complain how difficult it is to find great female roles in contemporary cinema. When you look at the performances that earned their interpreters an Academy Award these past few years, it seems that you need to imitate others to get recognition, to accentuate the performance and skim overacting or to completely disappear behind makeup (Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Marion Cotillard... apparently those are impressive performances...). 
Yet there are roles way outside the spotlights, female characters that don’t need transformations and imitations by their performers to get us emotions. Like Nazneen Ahmed, for example, who as a young Bangladeshi woman (practically a girl), was married to an older man by her parents, and sent to London to be his housewife, taking care of their apartment in Brick Lane, a neighbourhood of immigrants that is a far stretch from her homeland.
Adapted from a renowned short novel by Monica Ali, Brick Lane probably offers the most unexpected, delicate and moving portrait of a woman the cinema has graced us with for many long months. Essentially because it does not just consist in the journey of a woman, from point A to point B, but rather brings a larger scope to it. The shy Nazneen does not settle easily in her new country, her new lifestyle. Her story is the story of immigration, the concessions that come with it, and the dreams that suddenly appear on the way when you thought they would never be accessible. The story of Nazneen is the story of daring to find your place, your goal in this life. It is a portrait of the human condition as much as a social comment. 

The self-effacing Nazneen is elevated by the talent of Tannishtha Chatterjee, who gives her the perfect amalgam of frailty tinted with courage, a performance that is not about the performance, but simply to give life to the character and make you forget there is an actress on the screen.   Which is what acting is really all about, isn’t it? 

4/5 stars


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