“Polite Society” review: A hyper-creative punch to the guts

Sundance: “We Are Lady Parts” creator Nida Manzoor takes a fleeting, fantastical leap with an all-original youthful action comedy.

The Khan sisters aren’t just big dreamers; they are big doers. Well, sort of. The British-Pakistani siblings – including eldest sister Lena (Ritu Arya) and younger sister Ria (breakout star Priya Kansara) – have always strived to make their own way in the world, but as Lena’s dreams as an artist begin to falter, Ria his quest to become a world-class stuntman takes on a much more important role. Most of all, you need to make your love of ass-fucking something that can do nothing less than save your entire world.

For her first feature film, “We Are Lady Parts” creator Nida Manzoor weaves a hyper-creative coming-of-age tale about (pause for a deep breath): the struggle against patriarchy, the guts of feminine expectations: “The Matrix,” Islam, martial arts, family dynamics, high school dynamics, freshly squeezed juice, romance, friendship, forced leg waxing, possibly evil hybrid alien babies, diplomacy, computer hacking and a seriously cool convertible. At its heart, Manzoor’s stuffed ‘Polite Society’ asks a haunting question: What happens when your best friend chooses his own path in life?

For Ria, that certain sourness consumes every part of her life, because once Lena stops dreaming and Doing what she loves most has a profound effect on Ria (what if Lena’s crisis means the youngest Khan sister is on fire, too?). Ria’s ambitions have always consumed her, but have left plenty of room for classic teenage dissuasions such as a penchant for fantasy and fatalism. Suddenly, she’s faced with a problem she’s determined to solve, and Ria must pull together everything she can – good and bad – to “save” her sister from a path Ria just can’t fathom.

Is that the way? Marriage. (Screams.)

When Manzoor’s film starts, Lena even if Ria doesn’t fully see it. Having recently dropped out of art school, Lena spends her days fooling around with her paintings (often literally), wandering the streets around the cozy Khan home, and eating Peking duck with her bare hands. Things are not going well! Similarly tethered, even if she doesn’t realize it, Ria spends her free time emailing her idol (who never replies), performing elaborate handshakes with her BFFs (Seraphina Beh and Ella Bruccoleri, both delightful), and defending herself. she’s the sister to anyone and everyone (especially their sweet but clueless parents, played by Shobu Kapoor and Jeff Mirza).

Still, Ria’s imagination is strong, and Manzoor deftly blends the real (Ria’s tiffing with a schoolmate) with the fantastical (this tiff becomes an eye-popping spectacle of body slams and spinning kicks that would make the Wachowskis jealous). Soon, however, we all have to wonder: what are we really? real here?

When the Khans head out for a lavish Eid Soiree (the film is divided into chapters, including one, yes, “Eid Soiree”), Ria is shocked to find her eccentric, artist sister giving her handsome doctor son (Aksha Khanna) doe-eyed mother. one of his snobbish friends (Nimra Bucha). Things escalate and soon Lena and Salim gasp, committed? For Ria, nothing could be worse than her sister playing into the very feminine expectations they’ve always struggled with. But Ria’s seemingly crazy worries—like whether Salim and his mother are up to something really nefarious and not just sticking to conventional desires and plans—are rooted in the real world. Or is it?

Manzoor, who also wrote the screenplay for the film, takes this concept to wild, chaotic extremes. An action comedy that throws everything from “Sixteen Candles” and “The Matrix” to “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Everything Everywhere All at once” into a blender and serves completely original purposes. From the beginning to the end. But the real magic? This is also due to the primordial love between brothers, the love of two people who know each other better than anyone else and realize that this love also has its limits.

Hell, maybe not! Because even though Ria’s conviction that something is seriously wrong with Lena and Salim’s love affair alienates her from almost everyone, including sweet parents and devoted BFFs, she just can’t let go of him—or her sisterly bond. Big laughs, fast-paced editing and incredible fight sequences recommend the film, but the deep emotions in its heart make it truly special.

That, of course, and a pair of female leaders bent on dreaming, acting, and kicking ass—together. As inspiring as it is entertaining, ‘Polite Society’ is a powerful debut from Manzoor and a rallying cry for a host of brand new stars. Polite? Rarely. Hitting? Really, and more.

grade: B+

“Polite Society” will premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Focus Features will release in theaters on April 28, 2023.

Register: Stay up to date with the latest movie and TV news! Subscribe to our email newsletter here.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *