The Namesake (The Movie): A Review

I just read over my review for The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and feel like I should just copy and paste it here for my review of the movie, which I dragged my dear hubby to last night. Let's pray hubs will never tire of going to books turned into movies with me!! I don't know what I'd do. I did have a friend in college who once looked at me during the TV movie of We Were The Mulvaneys based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates and said "Why does it seem that every movie you take me to see with you is a book turned into the movie and you won't shut up about the book the whole movie?" Haha, well, that was the last book turned to movie I dragged her to! Lucky for me hubby hasn't said any such thing yet. I think that's why I married him.

I had high hopes for the movie to bring in that psychic distance, tighten the plot, give the story focus and maybe dramatize it more, give "the Namesake" more meaning. It really didn't do any of these things. It's as if the screenplay followed the book to a 'T' with no adjustments whatsoever. I still enjoyed the cultural aspect of the story, felt that it was done with the detail and richness that the book portrayed it in. But the movie also lacked in a substantial plot, seemingly going nowhere throughout the movie, feeling very slow and sluggish at times, feeling as if the characters and the story were only partially developed. It was an enjoyable movie for the cultural aspect, but flat otherwise, much like the book.

The acting was decent. See it if you want to learn about the intricate and beautiful Indian culture.


Mas said...

I liked the movie much more than you did, mai wen. I found it evocative and moving. Like you, I love movies that are all about characters and plot and dialogue, but I also love movies that are about evoking moods and atmospheres, content to leave things ambiguous and unclear at times. I reserved the book straight after I saw the movie.

As someone who's changed her name I appreciated all that stuff about your name, your right to choose it, other people calling you what they want, not what you want, and so on.

mai wen said...

I don't disagree with you that there's something evocative and deeper about people's names and I did like how in the movie Ashima's name meant without boundaries. I thought that was kind of cool because she was my favorite character. I personally just felt this theme wasn't developed enough in book or movie. Maybe I had high expectations because I loved Lahiri's short stories so much, I just felt the novel (and movie) lacked development and depth.

If you like her novel, you absolutely have to read Lahiri's collection of short stories, "Interpretor of Maladies." Lahiri is an artist with the short story and it has many of the same themes she attempted in the novel.

Mas said...

Well, I'm picking up 'The namesake' from one of my libraries today, so I'll see how I go with it.

I have to confess I have an attitude problem about reading short stories and I really don't know why. Maybe I just love the novel form so much it doesn't leave room? But thanks for the tip mai wen.


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