SUNDAY, 19TH AUGUST, 10.00 A.M.
TUESDAY, 21ST AUGUST, 8.30 P.M.
RUNNING TIME 122 MINUTES
Review by Margaret Pomeranz:
In the late 1977s, after surviving a terrible train crash, Ashoke, (IRRFAN KHAN), enters into an arranged marriage with Ashima, (TABU) and takes her with him back to wintry New York where he works in the fibre optics industry.
He names their first child, a boy, Gogol, because he was reading Nikolai Gogol’s THE OVERCOAT at the time of the crash.
At first, life in America is difficult. When Gogol, (KAL PENN), grows up, fully Americanised, and goes to University, he falls in love with a rich American girl, Maxine, (JACINDA BARRETT).
Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel about two generations of a Bengali family has been tastefully brought to the screen by Mira Nair. On the surface, the slow-moving film seems uneventful, but on reflection these are the ‘uneventful’ moments of ordinary lives.
Nair and her actors are strong on depicting the difficulties in adjusting to life in a new, alien country; these are the sorts of problems faced by all migrants, though Ashoke is fortunate in having a well-paid job which allows trips home to Calcutta as well as a comfortable standard of living.
The next generation, Gogol and his sister, become fully integrated into American society in ways that their parents don’t entirely approve.
THE NAMESAKE is a detailed look at these lifestyles, and benefits from strong, natural performances from Irrfan Khan and Tabu as the parents and from Kal Penn as the son who sees himself as an American and yet can’t entirely escape from his cultural roots.
Jacinda Barrett proves again that she’s a fine young actor who perhaps deserves better roles.