I didn't know what I expected when I sat down in the theater to see "Polite Society," but my expectations were exceedingly shattered.
This is a fun, wild, spirited action-comedy romp, with fantasy elements that make comparisons with films like "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" inevitable. First time writer/director Nida Manzoor is a break-out, as are her two leading ladies, Priya Kansara and Ritu Arya, who combine to pack quite the punch in what might be the most surprisingly enjoyable film of 2023.
Ria Khan (Kansara) is a vivacious young British-Pakistani woman who dreams of becoming a stunt-person. She lives at home with her parents and her older sister, Lena (Arya), who is battling a bit of depression after dropping out of art school. Ria spends her days making YouTube videos and doing martial arts training, pulling Lena in to record most of her endeavors. "I am the fury!" is Ria's catch-phrase, although she can't seem to land that complicated drop-kick she's been working on.
Her parents Fatima (Shobu Kapoor) and Raff (Jeff Mirza) have been supportive, to a point, but are now urging Ria to get real. Fatima has worked her way in with some influential mothers in town, namely Raheela (Nimra Bucha), who has a dashing young son, Salim (Akshay Khanna), who would be a prime candidate for marriage. When Lena is introduced and falls in love with Salim, it shakes-up Ria's world. But it all but shatters when she discovers they have become engaged.
Ria - along with her only two friends (Ella Bruccoleri and Seraphina Beh) - goes on a mission to ruin this arrangement...first by diplomacy and then eventually by any means necessary.
The charm of "Polite Society" is in the ambitious direction by Nida Manzoor. It's rough around the edges, for sure, and not everything works. But it sucks you in with it's courage to try anything and everything. There is sizzling chemistry between the two sisters, and even when the movie takes a sharp, absurd turn in it's latter third, you go along with it because, well, it's just fun.
"Polite Society" just goes for it. There are laugh-out-loud moments and some outrageous action sequences. The love and connection of the sisters makes all of the craziness worthwhile and somewhat grounded. It doesn't seem like it should all work, but it does. Is Ria just so imaginative and overly-dramatic that most of what occurs on-screen might only be happening in her head?
Here's a movie that knows what it is and doesn't pretend to be anything more. It's a bit messy, but it isn't looking to conform. That would be way too polite.
Genre: Action, Comedy.
Run Time: 1 hour 43 minutes.
Starring: Priya Kansara, Ritu Arya, Ella Bruccoleri, Seraphina Beh, Shona Babayemi, Nimra Bucha, Jeff Mirza, Shobu Kapoor, Akshay Khanna
Written and Directed by Nida Manzoor (feature-film directorial debut).
"Polite Society" is in theaters on Friday, April 28th, 2023.
4/29/2023 09:25:42 am
That movie looks interesting! I have never seen Scott pilgrim surprisingly enough.
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