THE NAMESAKE

8 09 2007

By the way, if you want to see a film which is beautifully edited, take a look at Mira Nair‘s THE NAMESAKE. While not perfect in story construction (any film which is attempting to telescope thirty years or more, down into one two hour film is going to have some problems) it’s a film in which virtually every shot in every scene advances the storytelling and emotions.

It’s not easy to describe the story of this film. It basically follows the story of a young traditional Bengali girl, Ashima (played by Tabu, on the right in the photo) who marries a scholarly and shy student named Ashoke, who takes her away from her family to live in New York City in the mid-seventies. Over the course of the film, Ashima fights her transplant, makes peace with the clash of cultures, has two children who grow up more American than Indian, and suffers the disappointments and joys that every parent has to go through.

The story, however, is not as simple as that. At its inception, it seems to be a story about Ashoke (Irfan Khan). Later, we spend enormous amounts of time with their son, Gogol (his naming is at the core of the story, and gives the film its name), who is played by HAROLD AND KUMAR’s Kal Penn. At those points, the film is truly about him. By the end of the film, we have returned to Ashima’s story.

So, whose story is it?

The answer is that it is a story about a culture and family. Each of these people represents a different view of how this family interacts with their various cultures. Ashima is thoroughly entenched in her Indian culture. Ashoke is a comfortable transplant. Gogol is thoroughly entrenched in his American culture. Each of them is tied to each other through family.

The story, then, follows the rise and fall of characters, depending on how close they are to their roots in family culture.

It’s fascinating, well-performed, and quite touching. And, Allyson C. Johnson‘s editing, pushed each scene and character towards that interpretation. It’s wonderfully done.

The score, by Nitin Sawhney, is subtle and combines the emotions of both cultures very well.

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