Hold on to your seats, because “Polite Society” is a wild ride of a movie that will have you cheering for the underdogs and wanting to kick some serious butt! Director Nida Manzoo (We Are Lady Parts) brings us a distinctly British Asian action film that packs in a whole lot of heart and laughs. The film has career-defining performances from its two leads and the supporting cast put in a solid effort here too. it is easily this generation’s Bend it Like Beckham.
The story follows sixteen-year-old Ria Khan (Priya Kansara), who dreams of becoming a stuntwoman. She is fiercely protective of her older sister Lena (Ritu Arya) who is struggling with depression after dropping out of art school. When Lena catches the eye of the wealthy Salim Shah, Ria is suspicious and embarks on a mission to uncover the Shah family’s secrets.
With the help of her best friends Clara and Alba, Ria creates “Operation Wifehunter,” a plan to stop Lena’s arranged marriage to Salim. What follows is a heist film full of outrageous and clever scenarios that reference action films like Bond. Manzoor’s direction is playful and free-flowing, which is all captured beautifully by cinematographer Ashley Connor. Tackling the themes of sisterhood (in particular really close sisters who genuinely love and support each other) while navigating traditional South Asian marriage in a modern landscape may have not worked with a less experienced director. Manzoo navigates all of this territory with a deep respect infused with humour and heart to tell a perfect story.
Polite Society stands out from the crowd through its incredibly succinct performances. Kansara and Arya shine as the sisters, each has their own life and while they are both wildly different, their bond and love for one another, while still allowing the film to be incredibly funny and action-packed is a testament to these two incredibly talented performers. The support of veteran actor Nimra Bucha adds to the mix as the scheming Raheela, seems to be having so much fun with this character. The film wildly invokes a feeling of celebration of all things girl power and gives British Pakistanis their own stamp and fresh twist on the action genre.
Polite Society is over the top and is completely unabashed in saying so, the movie is aimed towards teen-oriented audiences but is still packed with plenty of laughs and action sequences to please audiences of all ages. Manzoor’s affection for the characters and community at the heart of the work is clearly evident in this project, which makes for an expertly paced action/comedy film.
Polite Society is in cinemas now.
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