The Life of Nazneen

Tannishtha Chatterjee in Brick Lane (2007)

When she was still young Nazneen (Tannishtha Chatterjee) left Bangladesh for Britain as part of her arranged marriage to middle aged Chanu Ahmed (Satish Kaushik) and quickly has children by him. But it isn't a great life as she is stuck in the apartment doing nothing, reading the letters from her sister telling her about the freedom she has back home in Bangladesh. When Chanu loses his job it leads to Nazneen going against his wishes by taking up a sewing job, working from home. It is how she meets young Karim (Christopher Simpson) who delivers material to her and with both aware of each others feelings for each other start an affair. But with the racism on the streets escalating following the events of September 2001 Chanu wants to take the family back to Dhaka which doesn't go down well with their eldest daughter whilst Nazneen is torn between the life back home her husband and her feelings for Karim.

"Brick Lane" is a simple yet beautiful account of life for a Bangladeshi woman forced to leave home for Britain, marry an older man, live a limited and controlled existence in a small apartment, feel what love is when she meets a man closer to her own age, deal with escalating racist tensions and finally face a choice when it comes to life and love. There is nothing earth shattering new about this but director Sarah Gavron and cinematographer Robbie Ryan have such an understanding of the story and shared vision that they bring this story to life in a beautiful manner. Through their control and styling we get to feel the frustration which Nazneen feels in her marriage which is sapping her spirit yet through her affair with Karim and that feeling of love she is invigorated.

Now usually I would now say something along the lines of but, but there is no but as this simply beautiful story of Nazneen in an unhappy marriage and forbidden love is enough to sustain you especially in the way it evolves to bring in the racial tensions post 911. Whilst much of that is down to the beautiful direction and cinematography the performances also deliver the beauty with Tannishtha Chatterjee doing a fantastic job of making Nazneen a real person making her suffering so real but also so happiness when she is in the arms of Karim which in turn allows us to deliver the conflict as well.

What this all boils down to is that whilst "Brick Lane" isn't some amazing piece of original film making it tells a familiar. But it tells the story exceptionally well with such beauty that it draws you in to this charming tale and keeps you involved from start to finish.

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