ARRANGED centers on the friendship between an Orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman who meet as first-year teachers at a public school in Brooklyn. Over the course of the year they learn... See full summary »
ARRANGED centers on the friendship between an Orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman who meet as first-year teachers at a public school in Brooklyn. Over the course of the year they learn they share much in common - not least of which is that they are both going through the process of arranged marriages. Written by
The film is loosely based on the experiences of Executive Producer Yuta Silverman, an Orthodox Jew who befriended a Pakistani Muslim woman through the public schools in Brooklyn. See more »
In the scene where the two women are leaning against a chain link fence, talking, Rochel's arms go from being crossed near her chest, to being crossed much lower and then to being by her sides, and then back up all within a few seconds. See more »
We're forced to handle the challenges of ESL. Different cultural traditions, everything they enter the classroom with, serious family dysfunctions. Basically our schools, New York city schools, are one big experiment, one big laboratory in this exercise we call the American Experience. And we as teachers aren't equipped to deal with the task at hand. We're not, that's the sad truth. So, after lunch, I'll introduce some exercises designed to demonstrate what we all share, teachers ...
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Nasira and Rochel are respectively the daughters of a Koranic scholar and Orthodox Jewish parents who begin their teaching careers at a suburban NY elementary school, and are drawn together by their common experience of belonging to conservative religious communities. The film's title focuses on the issue of arranged marriage, but these two young women are only subjected to the milder forms of arm-twisting associated with this patriarchal custom. The main theme is their friendship across a cultural divide, which gives them support as they shrug off the school principal's disapproval of their spiritual beliefs and lifestyle - and then intensifies when they confide to each other about parental pressure to marry unpromising suitors.
Nasira's father is portrayed as a civilized traditionalist who simply cannot envision his daughter's future without marriage and children - offering only minimal resistance when Nasira firmly refuses his chosen prospect - and the father-daughter relationship appears to be strengthened by the episode. It is Rochel who must resist the more serious psychological onslaught from her mother's gaggle of marriage arrangers after they present her with a parade of socially inept misfits. When she rejects all of them, her unrealistic expectations are blamed for her father's rising blood pressure, and her mother bullies her with threats of lifelong spinsterhood and family disgrace until Rochel begins to contemplate fleeing her family's community.
The film is graced with sensitive performances from Francis Benhamou and Zoe Lister Jones as they portray the growing friendship between Nasira and Rochel. They are backed up by a fine support cast as the screenplay and direction navigates the passage between sentimental melodrama and realism in a series of scenes where a rarely-seen world is observed with sympathy and restraint. By the time we reach the story's conclusion, only the most stubborn cynic will be immune to the quiet strength and compassion of these unusual heroines.
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