Friday, 1 July 2011

West is West - review

West is West is the sequel to the 1999 British film, East is East.  East is East is a comedy film, set in the early 1970's of a Manchester council estate about a mixed race family of half Pakistani, half English kids who deal with life in the 70's, teenage crushes, racist stereotypes and the struggling of trying to find a way to fit in with both their Islamic culture and traditionalist father and English way of life and loyal, yet forgiving mother.  It was a break away smash hit which was instantly loved by British audiences.

Hollywood has kind of ruined things for me in a way, because when I saw that poster, even though it features four original cast members, my thought was that they would barely feature in the film and it would be a sub par sequel, coming over ten years after the original film.  I think this because in Hollywood films, this is the way things are. 

Well it seems that I forgot that both I and this film were made in England and we do things differently here.

West is West flips the ideas of East is East.  In the original film, it was about essentially English kids, trying to fit in whilst the rest of the world saw them as only Pakistani even though they themselves could barely identify with that culture.  In West is West, the focus is on Sajid, the youngest member of the Khan family, who, whilst having a tough time at school due to racist bullies, is sent on a trip to Pakistann with his Father to visit his brother who is trying to find a wife.  Saj finds that in Pakistan, he is entirely too English to fit in, he doesn't speak Urdu, he wears western clothes and speaks in a thick Manchester accent that even those who speak English find hard to understand at first.

The film is not just about Saj's journey however, George the father of the family, has to deal with his first wife and the family he left behind when he came to England.  Ella, George's English wife steals the show when she arrives to confront George about the money he is spending and the time he is spending with his first wife.  Without spoilering too much, the scenes between the two wives are by far the best scenes in the film.

The whole thing feels like it has been lovingly crafted so that it fits in nicely with the events of the first film, though if you haven't seen it (and you should), it will not stop you from enjoying this film.  Great cast, great performances, great story.  9 out of 10.

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