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With Jim Sabatini

Brick Lane

Brick Lane
Tannishtha Chatterjee, Satish Kaushk and Christopher Simpson

Rated: PG-13 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: June 20, 2008 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics

This very measured, yet engaging picture of discovery populates itself mainly in London's Muslim community.

Brick Lane (from Monica Ali's popular book) focuses on Nazneen (Tannishtha Chatterjee) who was relocated from Bangladesh for an arranged marriage at age 17.

Now, in her early-mid 30s, with her awkwardly pudgy spouse Chanu (Satish Kaushik) and a couple of bright teen daughters, Nazneen is in a pleasant, yet unfulfilling situation.

The sensible, if somewhat pat scripting by Abi Morgan and Laura Jones, lets Nazneen involve herself with Karim (Christopher Simpson) who provides her with sewing materials.

While Nazneen is influenced from hearing of the good life of her sister, a plausible tension arises from feelings toward denizens' epithets and wanting to return to one's native land.

Sarah Gavron directs knowingly with a feel for cultural diversity, in Europe and Asia, even if a solemn mood is too pervading. She works beautifully with her production designer and lenser to let the colors and locations stand out. But, it doesn't dwindle the characterizations and the struggles which are identifiable, but not always familiar.

There's something personal and palpable here, if not always as smoothly involving as The Namesake or Bend It Like Beckham. One is drawn into the complications of cultural assimilation with the character nuances and attitudes towards the likes of sex and religion. Also, noticeably in the wake of terrorism where Muslims are confronted with more immediacy in their important decisions.

As Nanzeen's life becomes perhaps too simplified as things simmer around her, Chatterjee excels in a multi-faceted role which allows her to demonstrate qualities as a worker, sister, lover, wife, and mother.

Brick Lane maintains a gentle tone within all of the cross-cultural barriers and generational divide that slowly lets one take in an emotional journey.

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