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A young Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen, arrives in 1980s London, leaving behind her beloved sister and home, for an arranged marriage and a new life. Trapped within the four walls of her flat in East London, and in a loveless marriage with the middle aged Chanu, she fears her soul is quietly dying. Her sister Hasina, meanwhile, through letters to Nazneen, tells of her carefree life back in Bangladesh, stumbling from one adventure to the next. Nazneen struggles to accept her lifestyle, and keeps her head down in spite of life's blows, but she soon discovers that life cannot be avoided - and is forced to confront it the day that the hotheaded young Karim comes knocking at her door. Written by
Sony Pictures Classics
So many British films are costume dramas or gangster movies that it's a real pleasure to see a work that focuses on the modern and very real challenges of an immigrant community. Where "East Is East" dealt with a Pakistani family and "Bend It Like Beckham" had an Indian focus, "Brick Lane" - based on the Booker-nominated novel by Monica Ali - addresses the life of a teenage girl from a village in Bangladesh (scenes actually shot in a beautiful-looking India) who is married off to a much older compatriot living in the eponymous area of east London.
So much is fresh and feminine here: most of the roles are for women and newcomer Tannishta Chatterjee, as the central character Nazneen, is excellent, often conveying so much simply with her eyes; Sarah Gavron is assured in her first directing role; the writing credits go to Ali herself and two other women; while the original score comes from Jocelyn Pook and the haunting singing from Natacha Atlas. This is a measured and intimate work that is more about different types of love and religion than it is about the Bangaleshi community itself.
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