Directed by: Mira Nair
Countries & Regions: France, Germany, India, Italy, United States
Length: 109 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 17 March 2008
Cat No: F4DVD90081
Hard of Hearing Subtitles: English
Screen ratio 1:1.78
Dolby Digital 5.1
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Mira Nair’s award-winning portrait of a contemporary India in which ancient tradition combines seamlessly with 21st century modernity.... Read More
It’s long been a cinematic rule of thumb that the more members of one family you put in the same room, the more dramatic the story you tell is liable to be. Robert Altman has worked out a variation on this rule in virtually every movie he’s made (but especially in 1978’s A Wedding), and the Danes, more recently, launched their Dogme manifesto with the troubled family gathering of Festen.
Here the Indian director Mira Nair, working from a script by one of her creative writing pupils, Sabrina Dhawan,tells the tale of an extended family meeting for an arranged marriage in modern-day Delhi. The kids try to get over or around their tangled family ties and relationships, while the elders are oft found fretting about how they’re getting too old to worry about such things as e-mail.
Fluent in both Punjabi and English, this is a broad, crowd-pleasing comedy, with enough distinct types amongst a sizeable cast for everyone watching to have someone to identify with. There’s a sneaking suspicion that Dhawan’s
creative writing course contained a module or two on the structures of Western soap opera, or maybe she (like her contemporaries in the film) spent a fair amount of time watching daytime television. The acting style, too, though on the whole heartfelt and sincere, isn’t far from that we see at prime-time every night. The only false note in the script concerns a character daytime soaps wouldn’t touch: so obviously is one of the family’s uncles introduced as a paedophile that he may as well be wearing a flashing neon sign of the word on his head throughout. The sense is that he’s only there so that someone can be purged to make the feel-good finale feel even better: we’ve ditched the pervert, let’s get dancing!
Actually, I think the rambunctious comedy in Dhawan’s script would survive well enough without the last-reel contrasts this character allows her. And there is real poetry in Nair’s direction, moments where even the camera
mists up, Mychael Danna’s score swells, and the noise and bustle of the streets outside are shut out by two people in love; there are more and more of these moments as the film goes on. It’s a well-meaning and generous movie: the overall tone is inclusive, with a last scene - set during the titular rainstorm and under one giant, all-encompassing tent - in which everyone gets pulled in out of the rain.
Good reviews made me watch this movie. Having watched it several times I am still uncertain what I think about it.
The movie doesn't work for me and I think that is because there are at least two movies spliced together here. One movie is a documentary that approaches the poetic when it records contemporary Delhi. Street scenes and a roof-top scene with kites against an evening sky are simply beautiful and I could have watched many hours of this.
Unfortunately, mixed into this is the second movie which, frankly, is a bit of tripe. The second movie deals with a family drama in the superficial, silly way one expects from an American made-for-t.v. film. Don't look for a
complex plot or profound character studies. Nothing about this second movie is memorable except the faces of some of the actors - some are merely beautiful but one or two are sublime - and the sound track which is typical
Bollywood and very sing-along-able.
Okay so it will not change your life but watching Monsoon Wedding will give you a couple of hours of reasonable entertainment which is better than most box office hits achieve. Points out of ten? Six or maybe seven if I'm