While traveling by train to visit his grandfather in Jamshedpur, Calcutta born, Bengali-speaking Ashoke Ganguli meets with fellow-traveler, Ghosh, who impresses upon him to travel, while Ashoke is deep into a book authored by Nicholai Gogol. The train meets with an accident, and after recuperating, Ashoke re-locates to America, settles down, returns home in 1977 to get married to aspiring singer, Ashima, and returns home to New York. Shortly thereafter they become parents of a boy, who they initially name Gogol, and a few years later both give birth to Sonia. The family then buy their own house in the suburbs and travel to India for the first time after their marriage. The second time they travel to India is when Gogol and Sonia are in their late teens, and after a memorable visit to Kolkata and then to the Taj Mahal, they return home. Gogol falls in love with Maxine Ratliff and moves in with her family, while Ashoke spends time traveling, and Sonia moves to California, leaving Ashima... Written by
Jhumpa Lahiri, whose book the film is based on makes an appearance in the movie as "Jhumpa Maushi". See more »
Right before the scene where the Gangulis are by the seashore and Ashoke and Gogol go towards the rocks, a 1987-1990 Chevrolet Caprice Station Wagon (really battered too) can be seen parked in the background, when the scene is set in 1977 (ten years before that model was even introduced to the U.S. market). See more »
As another proof that some of the recent award recipients have nothing to do with quality, here comes an assured and delicate piece of film-making that will probably not be honoured in the fair manner it deserves in next year's awards' frenzy. Just the other night, I had the pleasured to see an accomplished film for the second time: "Inside Man", and my jaw dropped when I realized that it was mysteriously absent in any "best of" celebrations. Regardless of what happens in about one year, audiences should not deny themselves the transcendental experience from seeing a movie that recognizes the beauty inside families and how their relationships are a mixture of inner and external pressures; only to all boil down to one word: Love.
As the title indicates, most of the storyline originates from a very peculiar name, and how it seems to affect the main protagonist. As the plot unfolds, we become involved in a sophisticated, almost flawless, and touching, without being maudlin masterpiece. With stunning camera work, a spiritual and moving score, and astounding performances by the entire cast, we learn to identify the universal values that this marvelous film highlights.
What is truly miraculous in the film is how its director weaves a story from the incongruities between two cultures that couldn't be any more different from each other, and yet, they are mirror reflections of each other. We all cry, feel happiness and disappointment. As our characters grow and change, we feel their sense of wonder, joy, and grief. Seeing them celebrate breaks down any resistance we might have to whatever foreign quality this movie might be. It's exotic, inviting, showing us that we share more than we think. In "The Namesake", a Russian name becomes essential to some of the tribulations of a Hindu American young man. It anchors the love that originates between a mother and her children. As Ashima adjusts to her new surroundings, she manages to hold on her traditions, as she learns to cope with the changes that she can't stop. In the end, she delivers one of the most inspirational speeches in movie history, and we can't do nothing but witness a superb dramatic performance come full circle. Many in Hollywood might feel a tinge of envy as her is an actress that charms us in spite of apparently not trying very hard. Her character is lovely, strong, and sometimes reads like a collection of the best moments in every female great role in the last century. She embodies the best of Scarlett O'Hara, the pain and frustration of Sophie in "Sophie's Choice", some of the regal qualities of Helen Mirren in "The Queen", and she can even sing and makes us laugh, all when a screenplay that addresses the lives of one regular family in New York.
"The Namesake" deserves every single of the kudos people decide to give it. It's a brilliant film, based on an outstanding piece of fiction, and that one that never struggles to be anything else but faithful to its source material, and whose heart never stops beating, with a real and magnificent heart.
Run and enjoy some of the best moments of your life.
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