Eye For Film >> Movies >> Meet The Patels (2014) Film Review
Meet The Patels
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Ravi Patel is 30. He's just left a two-year relationship with beautiful redhead Audrey She says he was afraid to commit. He doesn't know what that means. He never told his parents about her. Their wish, he's sure, would be for him to settle down with a nice Indian girl. He has nothing against that idea, but it's difficult when living in the US, and more difficult still when, to make them really happy, she would have to be a Patel.
To put this in context, Patel is one of the most common names in the world, having originated as a caste identifier. A marriage like this is no more likely to be incestuous than one between two Smiths or Changs. In the US, however, they are literally one in a million, so Ravi agrees to let his parents take him to India, where they can try to find a suitable match; and, if that doesn't work, to help him find a US Patel through the internet, passing around a 'biodata' document not dissimilar to a CV. He and the other young people speaking in the film are highly amused by these documents, which list everything their parents think is important in a prospective partner. Job. Financial situation. Siblings' jobs. Bodily measurements. Paleness of skin (highly prized, although getting together with a white person would be shocking). There's a small space for hobbies. Overall, there's very little that tells them if they might actually like somebody.
A series of what are essentially blind dates follow. The first woman Ravi meets is stunning but clearly out of his league - she doesn't call back. Others simply have nothing in common with him. He doesn't want to be prejudiced against a system that has worked for millions of people for countless years. His parents had an arranged marriage and are more deeply in love than any other couple he's ever met. Can he find the one?
Filmed by Ravi's sister, Geeta, who occasionally intervenes to ask questions, this may be a documentary, and it may be designed in part to educate people about Gujarati traditions and the immigrant experience, but it's also one of the funniest romcoms of the year. Ravi, an actor by trade, is a natural in front of the camera and seems able to put most of his dates at ease about being filmed. There's emotional drama stemming from the fact he's still dealing with his break-up with Audrey, who horrifies him by unfriending him on Facebook, and he's also going through the unsettling process of exploring his identity. There's also a lot of teasing about certain traditions, like the Patel motel phenomenon, but this is always warm hearted and Ravi delights in being part of, as he sees it, one of the biggest families in the world.
Smart, witty and always entertaining, Meet The Patels is one of the few films this year that you're almost guaranteed to enjoy, regardless of your biodata.Reviewed on: 17 Nov 2015