Film Review: East is East


Title: East is East
Year: 1999
Language: English
Genre: Comedy
Director: Damien O’Donnell
Actors: Om Puri, Linda Bassett, Archie Panjabi, Jimi Mistry

In mid 1940’s a Pakistani immigrant, George Khan came to Salford, UK and got married to Ella, an English born and bred woman. Twenty five years later, George Khan’s family consists of Dad, Mum, six sons, a daughter and one fish and chips shop.

After one incident that has practically smeared his face with black ink, George Khan — worried that his family wouldn’t be able to be accepted by the Pakistani society by being half-bred, tried to integrate his half English family to the Pakistani community in Bradford. The only way he thought the best, might not be the way his children wants. The clash of cultures have begun.

I couldn’t help comparing this with “The Namesake“, as I watched these two films back to back. Of course it is not completely the same, they also have different storytelling point of view. While The Namesake took the modern American, and a bit of Hindu – Indian as the background of the story, East is East portrayed the life of the family of Islam – Pakistani life in the 1970’s England.

I would leave The Namesake behind, as we have already talked about it last week. East is East is a completely different film. It is categorised as comedy, and since it was marketed more to the English audience, it doesn’t surprised me at all. It has different kind of comedy to those the American’s Hollywood comedy films. It is closer to how the Korean film makers made their comedy drama.

It began with a hilarious self deprecating joke, taking on the stereotypes we always heard. Some viewers might missed the tongue-in-cheek attitude and could easily thought that this is offensive. But these viewers might be just some closed minded bigot who could never take piss on themselves – a.k.a. the boring people.

While the story developed, it became darker and gloomier, and then without you realising it, you have stopped laughing and started to think… “oh shit”.

Watching this is not necessarily an emotional roller coaster, but it definitely gets me. I might be a little bit objective since I could easily relate to the characters, but it could only happen with the brilliant script writing and good actors. You might not realised at the beginning as I did that the little girl over there was Archie Panjabi, you might know her from her prominent role at The Good Wives, although she played a role on Bend it Like Beckham with the young Kiera Knightley.

This is a must watch, at least according to me. I would rate this film 9/10


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