This adaptation of Monica Ali's best-selling novel follows the conflicts in the little world of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi girl who leaves behind happy days playing with her sister round their village for an arranged marriage in 1980s London. At first she is almost living a life of purda within the walls of her East London council flat with her oafish middle-aged husband, fearing her life is over. Director Gavron balances intimate moments against the increasingly tense atmosphere in Brick Lane as the tightly knit community reacts to the events of 11 September 2001, and public attitudes towards Moslems or anyone who just looks 'different' afterwards. To emphasise the smallness of this community and of the family within it, many of the shots are close-up or taken through gauze, hanging clothes or glass; the camera-work is practically all steadycam, sharing rooms, balconies and stairwells with the protagonists. Struggling to play the 'good wife', Nazneen one day discovers a measure of independence in a borrowed sewing machine, which allows her to fill some of the gaps made by her husband's erratic employment; through this she collides with life again, as the clothing delivery lad Karim knocks at her door. One night, husband and wife are in front of the TV as 'Brief Encounter' is showing. On the other hand, we could just be seeing into Nazneen's head as she struggles to cope with her dilemma. As time passes, it becomes obvious that no decision she makes will be simple and easy, especially as her well-meaning but foolish husband gradually reveals himself to be a philosopher, and a man who feels pain. It's a closely observed film about closely observed lives, and probably will repay repeat viewings.
A young Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen, arrives in 1980s London, leaving behind her beloved sister and home, for an arranged marriage and a new life. Trapped within the four walls of her flat ...
November 12, 2020