The Namesake Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 1, 2012
A beautiful journey through places, times, and mainly the souls of a group of fascinating people, struggling to find themselves in the midst of all the changes that come with life.
Super Reviewer
June 17, 2011
This film, about a young Bengali American wrestling with a cultural identity crisis, is a nice take on the culture clash/cultural identity film, and also marks a nice change of pace for Kal Penn. True, he had a serious role on House, but there was also a lot of humor.This is a more mature work for him, even though Gogol isn't too far removed from Kumar. Gogol is more smart and serious though.

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.
Super Reviewer
½ June 13, 2011
A beautiful film, great screenplay and direction that brings a terrific cast. Fresh.
Super Reviewer
November 4, 2010
I actually watched this for a Film & Literature class and really liked it. The struggles between old world and new world were interesting and are something I think everyone can relate to. I especially liked seeing Kal Penn in a serious role. Good to know he can pull that off.
Super Reviewer
½ November 20, 2007
this is a really good film. universal ideals seen from two different cultures make this film profound. a few of the performances of the actors were really good and the story was strong. unfortunately the first hour of the film was much stronger than the second, the story veered off in some odd directions and the music lost its focus, but thankfully the last 15 minutes steered the film back on course and it finished well. overall it was a very good movie.
Super Reviewer
June 7, 2007
Decent, ambitious intentions for adapting Lahiri's brilliant novel (which is very much an epic saga for under 300 pages) but had too many scenes, too little build-up for climactic moments (Ashoke's death, dissolution of Gogol and Moushoumi's marriage), and too ham-handed a treatment of the "namesake" theme. Kal Penn's good in comedies, even serious moments in comedies, but when he acts serious in dramas, he's dull (incl. "House"). Irfan Khan and Tabu are wonderful as Ashoke and Ashima. The thing I love most about the novel is that Lahiri is able to develop all three of their stories so fully; the film really only succeeds with Ashima's.
Super Reviewer
½ March 9, 2007
This is a very character driven movie. One of the things that may throw people is that through the whole thing we don't know whose story we are supposed to be focusing on. Is it the wayward son? The mother trying to adapt in a strange land? The father trying to hold it all together? It might be all these people.
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.
Super Reviewer
March 9, 2007
a movie that shows the importance that lies within something as simple, and at the same time crucial, like someone's name...a beautiful picture directed by mira nair, it tells the story of two indian inmigrants who settle in NY and build their family there... gorgeous photography and soundtrack, the script and the direction are very good, and the actors really stand out: Kal Penn (Kalpen Suresh Modi) is AMAZING in a serious role, but, let's face it, he''ll always be Kumar; Tabu and Irrfan Khan are great as well... i loved how this movie depicted cultural differences... it is a great drama, even funny (when it has to be).. LOVED IT!
Super Reviewer
May 18, 2007
The Namesake is worthy of praise, but suffers from "Maria Full of Grace Syndrome"; that is, a good foreign film that probably would not be nearly as critically praised if it was a similar American product. The acting is generally good, and the dialogue shines, but those are the movie's two strongest points. Its pacing is all over the map, with a downright painful first half hour and several very long uneventful stretches peppered throughout. That's to say nothing of the jarring chronological shifts that Mira Nair throws in without warning.

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.
Super Reviewer
March 20, 2007
This is probably the first GREAT movie I have seen this year. Sure, 300 was awesome! But it was because that's in a league of its own. This movie, however, really grabs you from the start.

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!
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2007
[font=Century Gothic]Through indirect experience, I have noticed that the naming of children is a tricky proposition...[/font]
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[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]
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[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]
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[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]
Super Reviewer
½ June 9, 2007
A beautiful film. Mira Nair is becoming the master of depicting Indian life both in India and those of us who went abroad.
Super Reviewer
½ August 9, 2008
Very moving film accentuating the clash of cultures and struggling to overcome the cultural differences between traditional values versus Americanized modern thinking.....
Super Reviewer
½ February 8, 2007
A familiar, simplistic story that, while nicely told, simply goes on too long.
Super Reviewer
June 15, 2013
"The Namesake" is an emotional, heart-wrenching film filled with beauty and subtlety. Mira Nair obviously feels very close to the source material because her direction suits it perfectly. As well, the cast is quite exceptional. Kal Penn is solid in the lead role, but the real strength comes from Irrfan Khan and Tabu in their supporting performances. They will break your heart.
Super Reviewer
February 23, 2007
So sad! However, it was very good - touching and captivating. One of the best movies I've seen this year.
Super Reviewer
½ April 2, 2009
OMG this movie was good! Talk about transference! It was so easy to relate to Gogol and Sonia, being the daughter of immigrants myself and trying to balance your two cultures without forsaking the "foreign" one.

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.
Super Reviewer
December 6, 2007
Kal Penn is really good in this but the movie itself is just average.
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