CWC D: Sarah Gavron w/ Tannishtha Chatterjee, Satish Kaushik. UK. 101 min. Sep 8, 8:30 pm Isabel Bader; Sep 10, 10 am Scotiabank 3. Rating: NNNN
Adapted from Monica Ali's best-selling novel, this moving family drama set in Bangladesh and London's Brick Lane Muslim community is as layered and textured as the finest sari.
After her mother's suicide, beautiful young Nazneen (Chatterjee) is married off to a fat, ugly and inconsiderate man (Kaushik). Resettled in Brick Lane, she comes to accept her role as wife and mother. After all, her husband is not that bad, even if he can't find a job. When she starts taking in sewing in order to pay the bills, she meets Karim (, Christopher Simpson), an attractive Muslim activist, and forbidden flirtation soon blossoms into romance.
While the set-up is familiar (forbidden love and cultural disapproval are as old as the Ganges), the story is told with such subtlety that it seems fresh. Setting it against increasing tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in and around 9/11 without making it explicitly about those events serves to heighten the interpersonal dramas.
All of the performances are terrific. Chatterjee in particular is mesmerizing as a woman faced with the classic romantic choice - duty and loyalty or passion - and there's a single moment that is almost edge-of-your-seat tense when she must make that decision.