From July ’08 Spotlight: “Never judge a book by its cover,” teachers warn us, and sometimes that admonition also applies to movie posters. A current case in point is the new British film Brick Lane. I’m not saying it isn’t a film about a Bangladeshi woman living in London, I’m just urging you to dig deeper.
“My grandmother was 17, the same age as my lead character ‘Nazneen,’ when she got sent to England from Berlin, on her own, in 1937,” director Sarah Gavron told me when she came to Chicago last month. “My grandmother spent her whole life trying to fit in. Some of her friends hadn’t known she was Jewish until her funeral, when I was 26… When you make a decision to direct, it’s a huge commitment, and I have no doubt that one of the things that drew me to Brick Lane was having seen the world as an outsider through my grandmother’s eyes.”
Brick Lane is a haunting evocation of immigrant life, tenderly delineating the slow steps by which Nazneen acculturates and makes a home for her daughters so different in every way from the one she knew as a girl. To read the rest of my conversation with Sarah Gavron as well as my review of Brick Lane, visit my website: www.films42.com.