Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Namesake

2008 film by Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay, Vanity Fair, etc) about...well...I'm not sure what it was about. Factually, it's about a brilliant scientist who decides during a particular turning point in his life to move to New York. And the movie tells the tale both of his life leading up to the move and following the move. But, I really don't know what it's about. Is it about the the similarities and differences between a place like New York and Calcutta? Is it about the beauties and tragedies of his life? Is it about his son's quest to find his identity? His wife's search to find happiness in a land that feels both foreign and lonely? I don't know and in my opinion Nair is trying to create too many stories in too little time. Plus, she chose to use her well known pacing style, which flows along like a rhythmic, babbling brook. Problem is, in movies like Monsoon Wedding and Salaam Bombay there were fascinating and gripping stories that make pacing like that work, instead of, like here, making it simply feel hypnotic and borderline boring. Nothing in Namesake is developed well. Everything seems to happen out of the blue. Suddenly the son hates his life, but we have no idea why. Suddenly this person will dump that person, or fall in love with so-and-so and we, at least I, felt like I was clueless as to why. The plot turns and reaches conclusions that go totally undeveloped. I wish Nair was more focused with this story, b/c some of them seemed worth an entire movie. In fact, I would've loved to have just seen a movie about the mom, who is clearly brilliant, talented and obviously beautiful and yet lives the life of a typical suburban housewife. Now it sounds like I hated this movie, but I didn't. I didn't hate it b/c of the performances and the visuals. These two are also things Nair is known for and she does them both very well here. The art direction and production design are both beautiful and comfortable. Simply fantastic. And the performances, especially of the leads, are superb and ensnaring. B/c of these things, I would watch this movie again, but they're still not enough for me to like it or even recommend it. Long story short, if it comes on TV or something, it might be worth a watch, but otherwise you can skip it and not be missing much.

Saturday Afternoon

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