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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I must admit the first half of this film was wonderful - I thought I
was in for a treat. And then came the clichés: the husband calling from
the hospital- "Don't worry, I only have a stomach ache" - followed by
his death, what I surprise - I didn't see that one coming! The ugly
teenager that turns into a hot babe. And then having been told since
the start of the film of the importance of Gogol's story 'The Overcoat'
what a clever twist to have the son reading this story at the end of
the film. Such originality! Then there were the plot absurdities - why
doesn't the wife accompany her husband to Cleveland, she never
explains. She went with him from India to the USA but she won't go with
him from New York to Cleveland. (Surely all this wasn't in the
Pullitzer prize winning novel.) The film just became increasingly
ridiculous as it went on for its overstretched 2 hours.
This film really was a lot of dross - and a missed opportunity to make a great film. Perhaps Mira Nair should have made a film of Gogol's The Overcoat instead.
This is family "coming to the US" story spanning two generations; the 1st coming from what was once considered an "exotic" locale (i.e. India). Unfortunately, in focusing on the lives of both the father's generation AND the son's, the film runs way too long, with scenes that really don't add much to the plot line; an example being the family trip to India...which is superfluous since we've already seen it as a backdrop in the first part of the movie. While the film does have a couple of excellent performances (Zuleikha Robinson proves again that she is as sultry as she is versatile), overall it is very slow moving and self-indulgent. Like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" it uses (see: overdoes) the kitsch/formula of a culture that's not quite like the rest of what middle-America may be used to over and over (i.e. "we're Indian/Greek/Italian/Rastafarian/Scientologist...so we have to do things this way") but in the end succeeds in showing us just how much we really are alike.
I have a request to Mira Nair.. please study Bengali psyche before you attempt to make such a movie. this movie is nothing but a masala mix of incidents with no concrete framework. Just by mixing scenes from Kolkata and USA does not give any impact to educated audience or global value. The editing is horrible. I am surprised by this kind of sloppy work from her specially after watching salam bombay and mississippi masala where she could prove that she knows how to make a movie. Sad to say this is a complete waste of money talent and time. The whole namesake theme was so cheap that it will wonder anyone with maturity that why the heck she went to make a movie about this.
Not only known for his hilarious role as "Kumar", Kal Penn has some
rather good acting talent. But surprisingly, Irrfan Khan was just as
good in his role as the father of "Gogol", the original name Kal Penn's
Set between India and the U.S., this film shows the immigration of two Indians that establish a family in the United States. From there you see the struggles of the wife that struggles to adjust for all the years she spends there. Her children are very much American, but she becomes somebody who is torn between two worlds.
I could say more about the relationships the two children enter, but that might be ruining it for future viewers. But it did show the struggle for identity for immigrant families. But again, the script seemed lacking in the story and struggle.
There is some nice drama, although it could have been written better. However, I did appreciate the irony of the ending. The son, Penn, reading the same book on a train that his father got the inspiration for naming him. One might think the same thing might happen to the son? Who knows, and it should be kept that way. "B+"
"The Namesake" is an admirable film, and it offers an interesting
glimpse into Indian culture, but it feels too much like what it is --
an adaptation from a novel. I haven't even read the book version, but
even I could tell that the movie was racing to touch on all the major
plot points, and sacrificing along the way all the nuances and
subtleties that I have no doubt were in the written version.
The film tells the story of the only son of an immigrant Indian couple who grows up American and doesn't learn to appreciate his heritage until a momentous life event teaches him a valuable lesson. In the hands of Mira Nair, who has made some lovely films ("Monsoon Wedding"), it's a never less than sensitive and thoughtful movie, but by the film's end, I felt that everyone was racing through the plot in order to squeeze everything in, as if they knew they were running out of time and wanted to hit all the high notes. I also think the movie would have benefited from a less linear approach to its narrative. It's broken into roughly two halves, one showing the immigrant experience of the parents and the other the upbringing of the son. But blending the two stories more fluidly together would have had a greater cinematic impact, regardless of how it was told in the novel.
One thing this movie definitely has in its favor, though, is the beautiful Indian actress Tabu, who gives a wonderful performance as Ashima, the mother who endures through hardship and anchors the film. She's the heart and soul of the movie, and imbues it with a tremendous amount of warmth.
I just finished watching The namesake. The movie starts with an event which will be the key to the message. Yes, this is a movie with a message. And although this is already a big plus in my book, it's also delivered with a mastery which a lot of "would be directors" should learn from. I didn't know Mira Nair until now. A few months ago, I started watching A Monsoon Wedding, but my girlfriend of the time, being Chinese, just couldn't handle it (go figure!) Anyway, I am now really intending to get back to that movie and even explore all of Mira Nair's movies. The story is about a couple of immigrants from India coming to live in Boston, and their experience with life there, far away from their culture, but more importantly, the reason for their first child's namesake. I will not divulge here so many details as others have already done... sometimes sadly enough in too great details for my taste. What I want you to know is that this movie will highlight some of the real important things in life, and help raise your awareness of how much we take them for granted. There are so many beautiful, both fun and sad, moments in this movie that I didn't see the time fly. And then some great views of life in India, the rich cultural background, so full of colors, of ceremonies and rituals, that makes you want to travel there to see it first hand (yes, yes... I now know where will be my next big trip) Please do yourself a favor, rent and watch this definite masterpiece.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To be honest, I had some time to kill, wanted to see a movie, and I'd seen both action flicks that weekend and nothing else looked even close to being good. I've worked with Indians over the years and didn't have a clue as to their culture so thought this film might provide some insight. From what I've read here on IMDb, I did get a glimpse or two and got a decent story and some entertainment in the process. Plus,some of the Indian chicks were hot. I had no idea. Namesake does provide a journey, but it was slow in several places (you know, the check your watch test). I really enjoyed the footage of the Taj Mahal and the director and cameraman deserve kudos for such nice work. I'll probably buy the DVD just to get the wonderful honeymoon suite dance scene and music.
When I saw that this movie was playing near me, I had to see it-having recently seen Water and being a fan of Mira Nair, I had to see it. This movie was wonderful!! The acting, the story the cinematography all make this one of the best movies I have seen. I did not know what to expect, when I see a film based on a book, I usually try to read the book first to see how well the story is translated to film. Well, having seen the film, reading the book will only bring back wonderful memories. As a fan of Bollywood movies, many of the cast members looked very familiar, as did some of the American cast (after checking out the cast list and their filmography, now I realize why). Mira Nair manages to get wonderfully subtle performances from her cast, many who have worked with her before. I surely hope that this movie is put forth for this years Oscar nominations as was Water. This is a must see for anyone who wants a wonderful evening of entertainment and insight into families of all types.
Films with universal themes run great risks. Mostly this risk entails
descending into that pit known as cliché. Many films have done it and
fallen victim, but THE NAMESAKE uses its universal theme to great
advantage, never disguising what it is and how important it can be.
The theme is family and how vital they are to our core existence. They shape every part of us, from childhood on, for better or worse. They create a sense of belonging, even when we're apart, even when separated by oceans. They give us our early identity, and even our names.
Most of us don't think about how tough it is to name a human being and how we lug that title around with us for the rest of our lives. But in The Namesake, director Mira Nair ( of MONSOON WEDDING fame) gives us Gogol Ganguli, a name of substance and importance, but not necessarily important to its owner.
The Namesake is a tri-generational story of a Bangladeshi family. The film starts with the beautiful Indian singing of Ashima (Tabu). Her initial goal in life is to become a great artist/singer. But family concerns override her plans as she returns home to find a marriage arrangement being put forth for her. Her parents introduce her to her future husband, Ashoke (Irfan Khan), an architect who's been studying and living in America. The marriage takes place and Ashima accompanies her new husband to New York ("Half a world away"). She immediately begins missing her family but her forlorn attitude is whisked aside as Ashoke teaches her the ways of the City. She becomes pregnant with her first child, Gogol. The naming is tricky because normally it is done by an elder from within the family (all of whom are still in India). So Ashoke names him after one of his favorite authors (Nicholas "Gogol", a famous Russian writer). Gogol bares the name with disdain, never fully realizing its importance (one of Nicholas Gogol's books actually saved Gogol's father's life after a fatal train accident in India many years before). Gogol eventually changes his name to Nick, thus ending his family's tradition of keeping an appropriate Indian name.
It is this Americanization that is most troubling throughout the film. It invades the very fabric of what Gogol's family represents. Although not entirely without merit (America does give him a good education and a nice job), the culture of his parents seems stilted and uncool. As Gogol (and eventually his sister) grow into adulthood, they search for love in America, and find it via Americans. This is also another blow to Ashima and Ashoke (Gogol's mother and father). Americans live in the fast lane and often have to choose between one spouse's family over the other. This comes into sharp contrast as Gogol begins dating a beautiful blonde American named Maxine (Jacinda Barrett, POSEIDON). Maxine's pull is strong and forces Gogol to drift farther away from his roots. His parents call and call but never hear back. It takes a devastating family event to get Gogol back on track and it is this that gives the film its emotional heft. Tear-jerking and non-forced, this event was played perfectly and surprised everyone in the audience (all the movie patrons gasped around me when it occurred, a true tribute to this film's masterful weaving of the family theme).
The movie's arc is also well done. It ends just as it begins, with the focus on understanding family and what it means to move on when the time comes, but to never forget where you've come from.
Can't say I'm a huge fan of this genre of movie, I find them all too often pretentious and clichéd but I enjoyed the first half of The Namesake, that is until Gogol showed up. Basically I found the pacing of the two halves of the film totally out of whack, first half was gently building the story, the second half seemed like they wanted to get everything in before running out of movie. The other problem with the second half of the movie was the acting, I thought Ashoke and Ashima were beautifully acted but sadly the younger characters Gogol and Moshoumi were very poorly acted. I find this an ongoing problem with the North American Indian themed films, unfortunately the actors just aren't good enough, Lisa Ray in Bollywood Hollywood and Quarter Life Crisis, Kal Penn and Zuleikha Robinson here. Its a shame because with a few changes this really would've been a great movie.
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