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West is West


Stars: Om Puri, Linda Bassett, Aqib Khan, Lesley Nicol, Emil Marwa, Raj Bansal, Kamal Arora, Jimi Mistry, Robert Pugh

Director: Andy de Emmony

This follow-up to East is East finds the Khan family from Salford five years older, but little wiser. Things start badly: we hope no 13-year-old from a Pakistani/English marriage would really think Pakistan was in eastern Europe - even given that Sajid (Aqib Khan) bunks off school when he can and spends the day shoplifting. This inevitably leads to his arrest, and father George (Puri) decides to take him to Pakistan for a month.

What with a rather embarrassing cameo from Mistry, and father, son and mother (Bassett) doing little but swearing at each other, this opening section is jarringly off-putting. Things improve considerably, however, when the action shifts to rural Pakistan, where George lodges with his sons, Sajid and the bride-hunting Maneer (Sarwa), at the family farm, where his nephew, his first wife and her two daughters still live in comparative poverty.

This is where the film springs to life. Sulking Sajid swears at everyone and just wants to go home, but his father gives him in charge to the local wise man (Arora), with whose teenage son (Bansal) Sajid bonds. Naturally, Saj becomes assimilated into local life, and interests himself in finding a bride for his shy brother, who is looking for someone like singer Nana Mouskouri.

While Saj learns life lessons, their stay drifts into months, with George building the family a new home and his English wife eventually storming over to find out what the heck is going on.

Emotions ring much truer on the Indian sub-continent and the script feels more at home in dispensing its wisdom with literacy rather than scatologically. Although it's true that attitudes are occasionally understated, the atmosphere and genuine warmth of the last three-quarters of the film do much to compensate.

David Quinlan

UK 2010. UK Distributor: Icon . Technicolor.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 19 Feb 2011