Once We Were Strangers (1997)
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It happens regularly that I read, or discuss something that touches on the behavioral differences between people with different cultural backgrounds and this movies springs to my mind time and again : "it's just like in 'once we were strangers' when the Italian guy tries to follow the girl inside the building with his cigarette" or "this is like carbonara with garlic", etc., etc.
For anyone that works or lives in a multinational environment, this film is an eye-opener and a great teacher of tolerance and understanding for our differences (that go much deeper than we would otherwise be ready to acknowledge).
Basically , this movie is about the clash of cultures in a very smooth and soothing way. very conservative Indian culture, self centered and economical based American culture and passionate and easy going Italian culture. this is the concept and the good part of the movie that I liked but having a good concept does not mean the writing would be good as well! I think the story had a great potential to be developed more. lack of enough drama was obvious in the story , lack of passion was even more obvious. the characters were very amateur and not mature enough. Indian characters were not good attachments for this story and they kind of killed the story of the Italian - American love. just when the audience is going to get to the depth of Antonio and Elena's love story , the Indians come up and distract the audience. Although I have to give it up to the writers that they slyly show how some immigrants change everything about themselves to become more American but some just live in America with out forgetting their own heritage just like our hero in this story , Sicilian Antonio. the choice of the nationality of Antonio was perfect because Italians seldom forget their heritage even after years of living in America. But I still stick to my point that the story of Indian lovers was more of distraction rather than being helpful to develop the main story.
All and all , I have to say I enjoyed this film because of it's brave subject , not all people now a days have the courage to tackle cultural subjects specially in North America.
It reminded me a lot of the movies Edward Burns made, especially She's The One. The tone is really sweet and not at all threatening, although it is situated in a quite hostile city, New York City. The humor was very well timed, performances were allround great.
The only problem I had was that the audience had to keep up with to very distinct love stories unfolding at the same time, and that in the process of this happening the relationship of the Indian guy was somewhat neglected in the story.
But it was nonetheless a very enjoyable flick.