Film Review: East is East (Channel 4 catch-up) (1999)

This film is so brilliant it’s hard to know where to begin.

Humour It’s a northern film (Salford) replete with hard hitting wit. There are no ‘no-go’ areas. The film is set in appalling housing with seven children and two adults slotted into a three bedroom house. It doesn’t have a bathroom, which gives the director, Damien O’Donnell plenty of scope. Watching it as a comedy is worth the time on its own. But there’s more: Much more.

Culture Clash The children are assimilated British-Asians. Their father isn’t. He yearns for Pakistan’s moral and social certainties. Playing the patriarch gets the response you’d expect. But! George is married to a British Roman Catholic, with whom he has a loving relationship. They jointly run a chip shop, which is also a family business. Getting married Pakistani style involves parental negotiation not love.

Family Values George’s eldest son is led to the ‘altar’ but runs away. No-one knows Misir is gay until he flees the mosque. To George he’s dead. But not to the family. George doesn’t learn his lesson and arranges a double wedding with a rich family from Bradford. The excruciating scene where the two families meet is worth the entire film. A glorious one-liner epitomises the joy of the film when Sajid, the youngest brother runs into the house shouting, ‘The Paki’s are coming’. Nonetheless George’s wife Ella holds the family together, despite being severely bullied by him.

This ‘Must See’ film is free – no subscription needed.

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