Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: The Namesake

Director: Mira Nair

Starring: Kal Penn, Tabu, Irrfan Khan

Year: 2001

Genre: Drama

Rated: PG-13

Length: 122 min.

IMDB Summary: American-born Gogol, the son of Indian immigrants, wants to fit in among his fellow New Yorkers, despite his family's unwillingness to let go of their traditional ways.

This movie was good, but could have been a lot better. Although well-acted, I don't think the actors reached their full potential in this film adaption of Jhumpa Lahiri's novel. The pace of the movie was a bit slow, with the train wreck providing the only action. Also, Gogol's love life was treated as filler material, conveniently placed between moments of cultural unease with his family. There was no real sense of longing or searching on Gogol's part. In portraying his love affairs, the film did not do the novel justice--instead of using them as opportunities to convey Gogol's search for cultural identity, the film treats these affairs as soap opera material (cue the electric guitar, he's breaking up with her). I would have liked more emphasis on culture than on Gogol's love life. That aside, this movie is well-acted and there are plenty of touching scenes. Possibly the most emotionally-charged scene is when a young Gogol and his father stand on a cliff overlooking the ocean, talking about the journey they've made "to a place where there's nowhere left to go." The symbolism in these words--describing immigration to America--is compelling. Emotionally-charged scenes like this are what make The Namesake worth the watch.

For Parents:
Some nudity and language

My Rating:

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