The Namesake Reviews
All the cliched words like touching, heartwarming, etc apply here, and the film hits some familair beats, but it's not totally unoriginal thanks to how everything is conducted and presented. This is obviously a labor of love for Nair, and she does a great job, especially since she can relate to the material. All of the perforances are terrific, but Penn, Tabu, and Khan are the real strong points here.
Give this one a shot. It's far from brilliant or new, but it is well played, and gives some welcome portrayals of India and Indian culture.
The point of the movie is to see the world through all these eyes and to learn that the world is bigger than we are but not as strong as a family together in it.
The whole cast was excellent and played their parts well. Kal Penn was the weakest of the bunch but he still excelled in the role.
It's long and slow at parts but the journey is worth it.
Frankly, the movie is near unwatchable until Gogol is introduced. Tabu, performing excellently as Ashima, tries her damndest to keep us paying attention during that first act, but it's an uphill battle. For a majority of the movie, she and her husband are not interesting people, no questions asked. They only become full, dynamic, interesting humans in the last half hour of the movie. Kind of a shame when the kid from freakin' Epic Movie is stealing your thunder.
This is worth seeing, but a massive disappointment. It shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the 2007 Oscars. It's just a typical family drama with a cultural twist that everyone seems to be going crazy for.
The story takes place over the course of nearly 30 years and is filled with lessons along the way. The canvas is tinged with shades of tradition, pride, discovery and tragedy. But mostly, it is filled with a realness that seeps through and leaves you feeling like you've peered into the lives of a family.
Gogol is a young man with an identity crisis. His name has been the reason he's been taunted and teased his whole life in American. His parents, both traditional Indians, must choose between raising a child the way they were brought up in India or let their son be "free" to become whatever he chooses.
Along the way, there are pitfalls in Gogol's life and mistakes that must be mended. Ultimately, though, he realizes that home is where the heart is (no matter how far away home may be,) and that sometimes you've got to hold on to the memory of being in a place where there was no where further to go.
This was a great movie about retracing your steps in your family lineage and finding out who you really are and where you came from. What's the story behind a name and what's the reasoning for the choice made along the way.
The movie is beautifully crafted by Mira Nair (who is one of my favorite directors.) Her previous work on Monsoon Wedding and (most notably--and most recently) Vanity Fair is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the depth that a woman's perspective can bring to a story such as this one. The movie is filled with poignant moments of truth, courage and brutal honesty.
The acting performances were all top-notch. Standing out are those of Kal Penn as the troubled Gogol and Irrfan Khan as his sullen, but resigned, mother. This one should not be missed!
[font=Century Gothic]In "The Namesake", Ashoke Ganguli(Irfan Khan) survives a train crash in India in 1974 while reading a novel by Nikolai Gogol. So, after studying in the United States for a couple of years, he returns for a wife, Ashima(Tabu). Together, they live in Yonkers while he continues his studies. Their first child is given the pet name of Gogol, and then later a good name of Nikhil. At first, he chooses the name of Gogol(Kal Penn) but then switches back to Nikhil when he is dating a beautiful blonde, Max(Jacinda Barrett).[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Identity is important in "The Namesake", as it usually is for first generation children who waver between identifying with their heritage and their parents' new country. As in all things, balance is important as the children need to make their own way in the world while still respecting their parents.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Director Mira Nair has a loving touch for character and detail but the pacing is definitely off. The movie takes its time through the first half but speeds up towards the end as characters are not given enough time to fully develop. Worse, the movie ends unsatisfyingly, not as a way to conclude the story, but out of simple necessity. [/font]
I only knew Kal Penn for his comedic performances (and one CREEPY performance on Law & Order: SVU, check it out), but he exercised his acting chops here with success. Very moving. It felt very relatable (sp?) and real.