Sunday, September 29, 2013
Watched tonight a nice little Indian (Southeast Asian) movie, English Vinglish, written and directed by Gauri Shinde. Although it is about an Indian women who attempts to crash-learn English while in New York for a month for her niece's wedding, it is really about chasing dreams, earning respect (especially from those who are close to you and overlook you), being fearless, finding love and understanding for people different from yourself. Although some, especially audiences used to standard American movies, might find this movie a little blunt in the presentation, and some of the acting clearly is a slight bit off what one might expect from a more polished American screenwriter, it is still a quite enjoyable and delightful film. Sridevi (apparently a popular actor In India) is wonderful as Shashi, who is awed by New York and vulnerable to the slights of her family and strangers, but nonetheless undertakes to learn English on the sly in four weeks with a small class of fellow newcomers, all chasing their dreams. She also has to deal with a crush of a French student (a chef by trade), who challenges her beliefs and emotions (and to a certain extent is a bit pushy and presumptuous, in my view). Yes, there are certain cultural stereotypes perpetuated in the movie, but they are handled lovingly (except perhaps the unhelpful African American cashier). The cinematography is good, I thought. The movie touched me personally because my siblings and I often teased my Ukrainian-immigrant mother for her occasionally poor English and mispronunciations (though she was probably more intelligent than all four of us combined). This is not your typical Bollywood with big musical numbers, although there is a little dancing, yet most people will enjoy the movie if they give it a chance.