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Brick Lane


Stars: Tannistha Chatterjee, Satish Kanshik, Christopher Simpson, Harvey Virdi, Lalita Ahmed, Naeema Begum, Lana Rahman

Director: Sarah Gavron

A Bangladeshi teenager has to submit to an arranged marriage (her mother commits suicide) and move to East London in this perceptive and sometimes affecting memoir from the best-seller by Monica Ali.

By 2001, Nazneen (a tour-de-force by Chatterjee) has had a son who died in infancy and two healthy daughters by her rotund and heavy-breathing husband (Kanshik, also top-notch) who, overlooked for promotion in middle age, resigns his job and eventually finds work as a taxi-driver.

With the family deep in debt to the grasping local moneylender (Ahmed), Nazneen finds herself drawn into an affair with firebrand Karim (Simpson), some 10 years younger than her, who wants her to leave her husband for him.

In a plot that's complex both in emotions and characters, there's hardly anyone in the film who develops in quite the way you might expect. And the local community is quickly but accurately sketched in, as hatred of Muslims escalates with the 2001 Twin Towers disaster in Amnerica. It's unfortunate that Simpson isn't very good as Karim, making the ending slightly less bitter-sweet than perhaps the director intended. Otherwise, this Bengali version of This Happy Breed works pretty well, albeit told in a minor key.

David Quinlan

UK 2007. UK Distributor: Optimum. Colour by deluxe.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 11 Nov 2007