The Namesake

Photo from Wikipedia.

I hadn't planned to post today, but I just saw another incredible film last night and had to write about it. I'm probably one of the last to see The Namesake, because it's been out for a while, but what a stunningly beautiful film. I haven't read the book, which was written by Jhumpa Lahiri, but now I really want to read it and get my hands on everything else she has written.

The film is about the most basic things in life - love, loss, family and friendship, but then it's also about country and cultural identity, regret, and understanding that only comes with time.

I'm a big fan of the Director, Mira Nair, who I've been watching since she directed Denzel Washington in Mississippi Masala. There are not that many female directors in Hollywood and for a woman of color also, she has really had to overcome a lot of obstacles. I've seen several of her movies, but I really need to go back and see them all. And she has a movie in pre-production that looks pretty interesting called New York, I Love You, which should be coming out this year. It's a movie that has many different directors and writers working on a several stories set in New York. I'll be looking forward to this one. It reminds me of the movie Paris, je t'aime, which I also just saw recently. Loved it!

But I digress. Back to The Namesake. The entire cast is wonderful. Could Tabu be any more gorgeous? All the music is beautiful, then the sudden break in the barbershop scene with Gogol. Very powerful.

That phone call in the middle of the night that pierces your heart. Out loud I was saying, "No, no, no!", when they got that call. And then later when Ashima is on the phone and she keeps having to spell her name over and over and she goes outside and I keep hoping someone will come help her. The loneliness that she goes through when she first arrives in the United States. It must be the hardest thing in the world to leave your country to go somewhere else. Especially when it's suddenly cold and icy. But I loved the relationship between Ashima and Ashoke. Even though they weren't all lovey dovey, they were very kind and tender towards one another.

I loved seeing Gogal and Sonali growing up. It reminded me of my family in some ways. My parents moved my brother and I from the city to the suburbs, where my brother and I grew up. We were one of very few black families living there. We would take lots of trips by car and stop at those rest areas for really good meals that my mom made for us. In a family photo album, there is a picture of my mom standing near the car holding my brother when he was a baby. It reminded me of the scene when Ashima is holding her new baby girl and Gogol and his father are walking out by the water.

More than anything, The Namesake is a film about a family. And whether you're Bengali or not, we can all relate to that.

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Nupur said…
That's a lovely review, Anali! I watched the movie several months ago and had slightly mixed feelings about it, but there is no doubt that the movie is full of very real, human, tender scenes that touch a chord.
You *must* read Jhumpa's books; I think you will enjoy them very much. I particularly like her book of short stories, "The Interpreter of Maladies". One of my friends (she is American) said about the book, "I was sad to turn every page because that means it is closer to the end of the book". Jhumpa Lahiri often writes short stories for the "New Yorker" magazine too.
Mira Nair is so talented too: her "salaam Bombay" film about street children in Bombay still tugs at me every time I think about it.
Two incredibly talented Indian women (three counting Tabu!) Sorry about the long comment but I could not resist :)
Nance said…
We took lots of family car trips, too, Anali, and stopped at rest areas for meals brought in picnic form or made at provided grills. I'm so morose these days at in-car DVD players and the number of kids who travel "plugged in" and never share conversation with their families, let alone play travel games or anything. Some of my fondest memories are seeing the US countryside, playing license plate bingo, and stopping at roadside rests for meals with my family. It's a lost slice of family life, bonding, and Americana that is gone forever.
Cakespy said…
Anali, I had heard an interview with the director and wanted to see the movie after...but now based on your review I am putting it on my library list right now! I love the way you wrote about it.
Anonymous said…
You definitely know how to make someone crave to see a movie. You should get paid for this!!
I saw 'The Great Debaters' after your recommendation by the way and i loved it. I will make sure to check out this one as well!
Lisa Johnson said…
nupur - I love long comments, so no need to apologize! : ) I'm so glad that you liked the review. I was just talking to my mom about the movie and she really wants to read the book too. I love short stories, so I'll definitely have to pick up "The Interpreter of Maladies."

nance - Those road trips were really fun. That bonding time in the car and over meals is really important for families. Hopefully it will find a way to come back.

cakespy - I'm glad that you liked the review and I think you'll love the movie. Please let me know what you think of it! ; )

zen chef - I wish someone would pay me for this too! Spread the word! I'm so glad that you went to see "The Great Debaters." And enjoy "The Namesake" too! : D
Sai said…
Hey Anali:
Lovely review!

I saw the movie almost a year ago and love Mira Nair's work. I have seen all her films except Kama Sutra.

It is so weird you related to the movie as an American growing in the suburbs while I related to the movie as an Indian. In fact I had blogged about it as well.

Although I must say that my husband's cousins who grew up in the US identify with Gogol in many ways and probably relate to the film at the same level as you do.
My husband's uncles and aunts came to the U.S in the 60s and 70s to go to graduate school and stayed on. Their kids were born here and grew up in a very white upper middle class suburbs and were always very conscious of the fact that they were so different!
I thought it was a beautiful movie as well. I saw it with my mom last year, and have mentioned it many times since. In fact, she recently sent a care package and inside was The Namesake DVD! Now I want to watch it again.
Mes Deux Cents said…

I've read the book but I haven't seen the movie yet.

I'm a Mira Nair fan too. My favorites are her trilogy Fire, Earth and Water. I have them on dvd along with a few of her other films.

And of course I love Mississippi Masala too.

Great review, I have a feeling I'll be ordering it on Amazon this weekend.
Lisa Johnson said…
sai - I'm glad you liked the review. It's funny how people can relate to so many of the same things even if at first glance, you might not imagine it.

susan from food blogga - That's so funny that you just got it! What a nice care package! I bet you had some edible goodies too!

mes deux cents - I haven't seen the trilogy. I have alot of catching up to do!
pink dogwood said…
Just happedned upon your blog - If you liked the movie - you will love the book even better - I love all her books.
Lisa Johnson said…
pink dogwood - Welcome! I love your picture! Such a beautiful flower. I'm really looking forward to the book! : )
Mosilager said…
I haven't seen the movie or read the book... but I love Tabu's acting. Dunno why but I tend to avoid dramas and go for either action or comedy. Escapist at heart I suppose.
Lisa Johnson said…
mosilager - You're back! Happy New Year! I can be the same way. I usually have to see a few comedies before I see something heavy, but this was really very enjoyable.

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