West Is West

West Is West

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

West Is West - the rather overdue sequel to 1999's East Is East - returns to the Khan family five years after the action of the first film. It is the Britain of the mid-70s, where racism is still as common as a bowl of Frosties in the morning and life at school is proving tough for Sajid (newcomer Agib Khan), the son of Pakistani migrant George and his white, second wife Ella (Linda Bassett).

Worried that his youngest son is about to go off the rails, George (Om Puri) decides to cart Sajid off to Pakistan in an attempt to teach him some old-fashioned values and give him a sense of his history. Of course, Sajid feels like a fish out of water on arrival but it is, unsurprisingly, George who finds he has the least ability to fit back into the groove. He finds he must face up to decisions he has made in the past concerning his first wife (Ila Arun) and family. Set against this is a frothy and rather sweet romantic subplot involving one of George's older sons Maneer (Emil Marwa) - who has returned to Pakistan in order to find a wife.


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Although the comedy feels as broad as the Atlantic initially, once the main characters are transplanted to Pakistan things look up as the script begins to properly probe the emotional flaws of the characters rather than just opting for cheap laughs. Scenes involving Sajid's attempts to fit in and matchmake for his brother have a gentle warmth which acts as an engaging counterpoint for the more intellectual probing of cultural identity represented by George's inner conflict regarding his old and new life.

There is more than a whiff of accomplished Sunday night TV drama to this - but aside from the fact that this would look just as home on the telly as in a cinema that is not necessarily a bad thing. Puri and Bassett remain perfect in their roles and bring a depth to their characters beyond the limitations of the script, while Agib Khan, in his first film role, proves likable as Sajid. The female characters are less well-explored than the men, but the acting and some capable direction from TV veteran Andy DeEmmony help to add emotional depth.

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This is an unashamedly populist film that concerns itself purely with family and relationship politics rather than those of the countries themselves, but with its sympathetic characters and well-handled sentimental scenes it proves itself, if not as good as its forebear, then at least a worthy follow up. Just one last side note regarding the film's 15 certificate. It's purely due to the plentiful swearing - 12 and ups will find plenty to enjoy and talk about here and unless they are particularly sensitive or cloistered, the language is no worse than they'll hear in the schoolyard.

Reviewed on: 25 Feb 2011
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West Is West packshot
Sequel to East is East, in which the family return to their roots in Pakistan.
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Director: Andy DeEmmony

Writer: Ayub Khan-Din

Starring: Jimi Mistry, Om Puri, Linda Bassett, Vanessa Hehir, Emil Marwa, Lesley Nicol, Vijay Raaz, Aqib Khan, Ila Arun, Zita Sattar

Year: 2010

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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