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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Tannishtha Chatterjee
Satish Kaushik
Christopher Simpson
Naeema Begum
Lana Rahman.
Directors
Sarah Gavron.
Screenwriters
Laura Jones
Abi Morgan.
Running Time
102 minutes

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Brick Lane
East is East without the big laughs


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Plot
At 17, Nazneen (Chatterjee) enters an arranged marriage with Chanu (Kaushik). Years later, living in Brick Lane with her family, she meets young man Karim (Simpson).


Review
Brick Lane

While films such as East Is East and Mischief Night tackled the immigrant experience with a wry, comic touch, Brick Lane takes a more sober approach. Based on the novel by Monica Ali, it focuses on the claustrophobic life of Nazneen (Tannishtha Chatterjee), a wife and mother whose grey, routine East End existence is in sharp contrast to her colourful, free childhood in Bangladesh.

After years of being stuck indoors while her husband Chanu (Kaushik) is at work and her teenage daughters at school, Nazneen nervously accepts an offer of work, sewing clothes at home. While the job itself is a catalyst for increased independence, it comes with an added bonus: handsome young Karim (Simpson), who brings and collects the goods. Karim is sensitive to Nazneen’s culture: he politely asks if her husband is home when he first calls round and is wary of intruding. But he’s the type of Westernised Muslim Chanu regards with suspicion, and his flirtatious manner spells danger: is he a serial womaniser? Karim’s ambiguities help steer Brick Lane away from predictable romantic territory, without denying the audience the vicarious pleasure of forbidden love.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks send the drama into more political territory. As Muslims are targeted by vengeful locals, Karim becomes politicised, Chanu alienated, and Nazneen caught in the middle. Still, there’s enjoyable humour at the expense of rotund Chanu, who’s constantly trying to convince his family - and himself – that he’s a successful businessman in the face of frequent, sometimes comical failures.

Crucially, Chanu and Nazneen’s routine relationship is very well depicted. The film never demonises Chanu, ultimately treating him with sympathy and affection. Such well-drawn characters help make this an involving portrait of a community whose patriarchal traditions are under threat.


Verdict
The daily grind of a Brick Lane Bangladeshi is credibly brought to life in this sensitive and intelligent adaptation of Monica Ali’s novel.


Reviewed by Anna Smith

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Brick Lane
Empire Star Rating

i saw this film without reading the book, and some of what's in the review i don't remember being in the film at all (e.g. i didn't get that the love interest was potentially a womaniser?) Maybe you'll get more from it if you know the book, but to me it all seemed very muddled, unclear and in the end, really really dull. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hazyjane at 13:14, 22 November 2007 | Report This Post


Brick Lane

Having been born and bought up in the East End of London, and being of Bangladeshi descent myself AND living near Brick Lane - i would like to see how this film comes across. Of course films normally potraying a particular cultures sometimes arent a true depiction of the culture, but Brick Lane seems good, so i'll post my full review after watching it..adios I'm posting i rating only cos i have to ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mabs at 14:31, 02 November 2007 | Report This Post


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