Can the hit British comedy about cultural clashes play to a North American audience?
“East is East” tells the story of the Khan family as they try to relate and fit in with the cultural insecurity of the booming 1970’s.
The patriarch of the household George Khan (played by Om Puri), is a bullheaded culturally strict Muslim from Pakistan.
His wife is a born and raised English woman who helps her husband raise their six children and run the family business, a fish and chips restaurant.
“East is East” is a sweet topical comedy one moment and a deep serious story chronicling a woman’s struggle to regain her family the next.
With this on-going struggle to find its message, “East of East” does deliver beautifully in the comedic elements.
The cultural differences between the mixed family pave new paths for the classic “fish out of water” comedy formula. That part is a lot of the brilliance in this film.
As the father becomes more and more bull-headed trying so desperately to keep his Muslim family together, he turns from stubborn to vicious.
This allows Puri to deliver a wonderful performance thus allowing the audience to follow his anger and frustration. He truly does believe that he is doing what’s best.
But as his vicious streak emerges the audience loses him and his plight. We then turn to the family and wonder why they won’t stand up to this proud man. At one point during the film I yelled for someone to call “Social Assistance”. It really frustrated me to see the abuse he was delivering even if he was doing what his culture told him to.
Saying this, is this film a comedy or a message on what happens really when cultures clash? And do the cultures of today allow us to find our individuality? “East is East” is a mixed blessing.
(3.5 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer.