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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

THE NAMESAKE (2006)

Mira Nair hasn’t been able to maintain her MONSOON WEDDING/’01 mojo. Now, she revisits some of the themes of family ties & Indian heritage, but the magic is gone. Perhaps this story is simply too worn to carry us along: son of immigrant parents falls from the old ways only to return when mortality closes in. What ethnic group hasn’t told this story on film, from THE JAZZ SINGER/’27 on? Perhaps, paradoxically, Nair is too well suited to the material. The well worn tropes need the fresh eyes of an outsider to revivify them. The film does get aloft toward the end when life gives one extra twist to our journeyman hero, but by then it’s too little, too late. Perhaps I’m being unduly harsh. But MONSOON WEDDING was just too good to let Nair off the hook. Her latter projects seem to alternately see her trying to find herself or lose herself in her work when what she needs to do is find herself by losing herself.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Kal Penn, who seems a bit too old as the film’s prodigal son, looks from certain angles like Johnny Mathis. It’s distracting!

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