East Is East
Told through the eyes of a sensitive 12-year-old, "East is East" is based on Ayub Khan-Din's hit autobiographical play about the Khan clan -- a tyrannical Pakistani dad trying to uphold Muslim tradition, his long-suffering English wife and their seven captive children.
Lavished with rich period detail (it's set in 1971 Salford, England) and hilarious anecdotes, the film revolves around the plans by George (the father) to marry off his sons to good Pakistani girls. The movie opens with his handsome eldest son bolting from the altar to live a secular (and decidedly fashionable) life, even though it means being severed from his kin. It all unfolds with great energy that never lets up, even at the cathartic hour of reckoning between tribe and elder.
George's irascibility is brilliantly telegraphed in Om Puri's remarkable, craggy face (last seen in Hanif Kureishi's "My Son the Fanatic"). Linda Bassett as his
common-sense wife, Ella, captures the inner struggle between a loving, dutiful (and abused) spouse, and a mother protective of her children's happiness. The ensemble playing their fractious brood -- six sons and one sassy daughter -- is a joy to watch.
Much of the tale's brisk charm lies in its frenetic intergenerational conflict, which Damien O'Donnell brilliantly navigates. O'Donnell milks each scene for every possible grain of comedic friction.
Eastern in quality, Western in flavor and definitely worth traveling to see.