the namesake

The Namesake (2007) is a touching film chronicling the Indian immigrant experience of a married couple and their relationship with their American born children. First of all, its a story that speaks to me as a son of immigrant parents and secondly it stars Kal Penn of "Harold and Kumar" fame. He delivers a wonderfully dramatic performance although I had to laugh when his character experiments with weed during high school. Kumar came out for that brief moment. Nonetheless, he plays the complex character of Gogol Ganguli, an Indian-American who has issues with his name but is fairly self assured with his identity - aside from having issues with his own name (named after his father's favorite author - Nikolai Gogol). He rediscovers the importance of family after struggling with his parents' traditional ways and failed relationships with American and Indian women. Meanwhile his parents manage their reality of having their hearts tied to both their homeland and their new country in which their children are growing up in.

The cinematography is visually arresting in framing traditional Bengali culture in Calcutta and fusing it with contemporary New York City. The director Mira Nair comments that her vision is often influenced by photography from other artists and the DVD bonus features showcase some of these inspirational photos followed by the related scene from the film.

My only complaint is that it skips through some character progressions pretty quickly but its almost impossible to cram a complete story which spans 30+ years in one movie. The only solution is to pick up the original book which spawned this film adaptation.


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