Brick Lane (UK, 2007)

brick_lane_xlgDirected by: Sarah Gavron. I don’t know why this was on my radar for so many years—maybe it was my teenaged fascination with all things London, and the fact that I once passed by Brick Lane. I knew that this film (and the book, which I seriously considered reading) had nothing to do with my experience in London, that it was a very specific story about the immigrant experience, and I suspected, a romance story on top of it all. Regardless, I wanted to see it, and the movie that it ended up being ended up really hitting the spot for me. It was an immigrant’s tale, sure, but it was most importantly a woman’s tale, and you don’t see a hell of a lot of those around. I guess what I liked most about it was the narrative voice struck by the director Sarah Gavron. She somehow made the unremarkable, claustrophobic, naturally-lit apartments look really beautiful. Or at least, she allowed the stark natural light avalanching in through the windows appear to be really naturally beautiful in a simple, direct way. The use of shaky hand-held cameras contributed a lot to the “realism” of this film. Frankly, the whole film, from dialogue, characterization, etc, felt very real (bearing in mind the whole debate about realism in film, which does interest me very much, but which I don’t want to get into right now). This film is predicated on the presumption that they’re at least vaguely talking about real problems that real people in the real world face, so I appreciate the fact that it went out of its way to present these characters as real people, the world of the film as the real world of East London immigrants. As far as believability goes, though, I’m still not sure if I buy the ending. It was satisfying to see that she didn’t take the bait of the new handsome young boy-toy, but I’m not sure how believable I found the situation where she is able to leave her husband (or, to split hairs, where her husband leaves her). I guess I missed that part of the dialogue, but I didn’t understand why he had to leave, even when they decided to stay. The debt collectors? She already kind of told off the old lady, didn’t that get rid of that problem? And if the old lady is still on them for money, she’ll just pester the wife and kids, even if the husband is gone back to Bangladesh. I don’t know. Anyway, it was a very satisfying ending, and maybe that’s why I’m cautious of it. She was able to assert herself without breaking anything with the husband. Because, even for all the failings that this big idiot has, he’s still likable. Indeed, it’s believable that she still loves him at the end, even though it’s a completely loveless marriage, no passion, etc. (There’s even the semi-, quasi-, basically straight-up rapey scene at the beginning, super disturbing, but not really mentioned after, and it’s perhaps a blind spot of the movie that it introduces that element and then plays the rest of the film as if it never happened, because that’s what the character would do—I’m not going to weigh in on that right now, discuss amongst yourselves.) Overall, though, this was a really powerful movie, with really smart directing, incredible acting from the two leads Tannishtha Chatterjee and Satish Kaushik (and from the kids), and overall a really nice, warm fuzzy movie about humans that is actually smart and doesn’t make you want to puke. Always a bonus.


2 responses to “Brick Lane (UK, 2007)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2014 | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Bend It Like Beckham (UK/Germany, 2002) | Offhand Reviews·

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