Polite Society Puts A Few Filmmakers on the Map

Polite Society is a film of big announcements. Between writer and director Nida Manzoor and budding star Priya Kansara, this will be a film that puts names on the map of artistic relevance and probably secures quite a few jobs in the meantime.

Manzoor and her feature film debut, Polite Society, have already been compared to fellow Brit Edgar Wright, and particularly Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). Just about every review I’ve seen mentions the name “Wright” at some point or another. And there’s something to that if one only cares for nimble stylistic decisions like fancy title cards, comedic zooms, and the British equivalent to Americana. (One review I read described Manzoor’s film as a mix of Get OutScott Pilgrim, and The Matrix.) But this is too reductive for Polite Society. Even if she grew up watching Wright’s greatest hits, Manzoor did not make a British-Pakistani feminist Wright film. She made a Nida Manzoor film.

An optimistic stuntwoman in the making, Ria Khan (introducing Priya Kansara) is both familiar and inimitable. Seeing her own ambition in her older sister, Lena (Ritu Arya), a recent art school dropout, Ria devises a plan basically straight out of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody to prevent her sister from marrying Salim (Akshay Khanna), the handsome doctor who saves babies. Her individualism, artistic ambition, and childlike plot to save her sister from the patriarchal clutch of monogamy are pretty standard stuff in the genres Polite Society rifs on, especially as a Pakistani film. (Consider, for example, Kamala Khan’s superhero obsession and how her family initially responds to that symbol of individualism in Ms. Marvel.) 

Continue reading at the Boston Hassle.

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