Rob Reviews "Polite Society"
Viewing the one-sheet for Polite Society can be very misleading, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing. While it does have a Bollywood element to it, it is so much more than that. Nina Manzoor is the writer/director here, and even though her resume is not as long as others, I think that benefits her here in the risks she takes with her film that other more veteran directors might not.
In a film that is a mashup of a number of genres (including a dash of the classic western) laced into a coming-of-age story, Pria Kansara plays teenager Ria whose sister Lena (Ritu Arya) spends her days hiding from those around her until her parents force them to attend a party at the home of a very rich family friend in Raheela (Nimra Bucha). Her son, Salim (Akshay Khanna), takes a liking to Lena, and a whirlwind romance leads to an engagement. Ria is both suspicious of the nature of this association but also has to deal with her own issues of abandonment and even a touch of jealousy as she dreams of becoming a stunt performer. Oh yeah, and she is also dealing with a school bully while her two best friends help her in her quest to take the wedding down.
Is there a LOT going on here? Absolutely. Does it all work? ABSOLUTELY.
This is another one of those films that is truly best to go into as cold as possible. There are quite a few twists and turns that had I known about going in, it might have taken away from my enjoyment. Manzoor really focuses on a story that is at its heart is about a young girl and how she wants to hold onto her view of a perfect family situation while it all changes very quickly in a way that feels grounded while at the same time leaning into a Bollywood-style of filming that does involves a fantastic level of action that kept me both laughing and cheering throughout Polite Society. Kansara brings Pria to life masterfully, showcasing her strength and struggle on this wild ride she brings the audience on, while Serephina Beh and Ella Bruccoleri compliment her in the best friend/co-conspirator roles like they have truly known each other their entire lives.
Fresh off her stint in Ms. Marvel, Bucha is also fantastic as the mother of the groom who always seems to have something up her sleeve (and not always with the best of intentions) alongside Shobu Kapoor and Jeff Mirza as Pria and Lena’s parents, who just want the best for their children.
I truly believe that Polite Society is the kind of film that should definitely be seen by the entire family as it will appeal to people on all levels of pre-teen and up. I think anyone with daughters will identify with the core story itself and could lead to some great conversation afterwards that could make family bonds that much tighter. My hope is that this film gets enough attention to get to a bigger audience, and with the love that international film is getting in the last few years, it just might.