Namesake, the - What's in a Name?
| The Namesake is one of those movies that turns out to be nothing like the trailer makes it out to be. The trailer oversimplifies the story, I guess to sell the thing, but it doesnít really capture what the film is about.
The Namesake is about a man attempting to pass along his identity to his son, a man learning about what it means to be his fatherís son, and a woman finding her own voice between the men she loves. Director Mira Nair has crafted a beautiful little film, filled with salient but small images that capture the complicated emotions of her story.
Her work is often striking as is clear in Monsoon Wedding and Vanity Fair. She is also strong at evoking feeling, there is more going on than just what is being said. She shows well whatís underlying her characters words. The Namesake is no exception. Sheís crafted a lovely little story and she makes it a beautiful thing to watch.
The main weakness of The Namesake is how she is never really able to create believable romantic relationships for her young protagonist Gogol. Itís not just that the relationships donít seem to work. In fact, they donít work which is a part of the story as well. Itís that the audience doesnít really believe that they arenít working either. Suddenly there is a conflict that canít be overcome. His romances are never really given any weight. I guess they arenít the point of the story, but the film could have been stronger if you believed he ever really cared for the women in his life.
Maybe this comes from the actor playing Gogol, Kal Penn. Heís not a very strong actor and doesnít pull off the right depth of character. We never really believe his emotions or his supposed romances. Ifran Khan and Tabu are much more believable as his parents. Their loves seems to radiate from the screen. Penn may be stuck doing the Kumar movies if The Namesake is any indication.
Still, the film overcomes these limitations and remains a pleasure. It certainly made me want to read The Overcoat.