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A young Bangladeshi woman, Nazneem, 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 Nazneed, 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
This is a masterpiece of the first rank, as if Satyajit Ray had come back from the dead to do one final great work, and yet the director is a young English girl named Sarah Gavron, who will obviously go from triumph to triumph in the future. The film, the director, the script writer, the cinematographer, the editor, and the superb musical score all deserve Oscars. But most of all, so do Tannishtha Chatterjee as Best Actress and Satish Kaushik who plays her husband as Best Actor. This is one of the most devastatingly tragic and emotional films in years. My wife and I saw it in a private screening tonight, and most people were in tears. Sarah Gavron and Monica Ali the novelist both spoke about the crazy media coverage. The film has been covered by the papers in a dishonest fashion, so alarming that Prince Charles pulled out of attending the premiere. This film is the story of a woman trapped in her life, trapped in her culture, and trapped in an arranged marriage. In the beginning her husband seems to be something of monster, but by the end of the film we see that despite all of his failings, he is a truly noble character. The incredible irony is that Tannishtha Chatterjee, who by her astonishing ability and delicate sensitivity has done more to explain Muslim women to us than anyone I can think of, is herself a Hindu from West Bengal. When I told Monica Ali afterwards that this film would do more for cross-cultural understanding than anything else, she was pleased but looked doubtful. After all, the lives of the people making the film were threatened by a small minority of fanatics ('five men in a sweet shop in Brick Lane' was how it started, growing to seventy malcontents) when they were filming on location in London, and there is a false and hypocritical media storm raging around the film at the moment. It makes a good cheap headline. But we need to forget about all of that and concentrate on what this film really is: a human document of such raw honesty and true feeling that it is like a cry from the hearts of all who have suffered at any time and in any place in our troubled world. People talk about 'understanding', but how are we to achieve it? By making and viewing such films as this, I would suggest. And then there is the endless problem of women being oppressed. If you are not a woman and want to know what that is like, just watch this. The saddest thing of all is the collapse of dreams, and the story is about how the different characters bear the respective collapses of their most cherished ones and try to go on, and do.
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