Trash. This is about a Bangladeshi family living in a high rise block in London, dealing with how to make ends meet and the feelings of cultural and romantic isolation as well as the expectations and duty of family, in particular focusing on the mother of said family. It’s based on the 2003 debut novel by Monica Ali of the same name (‘Brick Lane’ is a street in London at the centre of the Bangladeshi community), but going by the motion picture version of the story, there is little to suggest the book is anything more than one of those torturously bad novels sold at airport newsagents. The fact is, minus the race element this film would never have been made at all, and the only reason it was is that the book was successful and a race related film set in London is made every year or so, which generally proves negative in outlook and can surely only further ingrain cultural stereotyping. That’s not to say some of the issues here aren’t real, or that they aren’t serious, but it needed more than melodramatic clichés to really engage the audience – even the Twin Towers attack seems to feature as nothing more than opportunistic storytelling. It’s not surprising the book caused some outrage from within the very community it was supposed to be depicting.
We assume the main character is to be a triumph of feminism versus her own shyness and the difficulties imposed upon her by culture, however she is presented as little more than a limpid hussy who drops her knickers at the first glance from a young man, seemingly oblivious to any possible consequences. In confrontation she is also far too weak for the audience to really feel much sympathy for her. The film only gets a rating of fifteen due to the good job Satish Kaushik does as the husband, and a slight redemption of the storyline toward the end, though even this is riddled with ambiguities. Only watch this if you are from an ethnic minority background and living in a large city in England, female, with a partner you dislike but lack the courage to leave, love self pity and crying that the world is against you because you are repressed by everyone and life just isn’t really fair in general, and there’s a young hot guy you could have if only you weren’t burdened by the man you’ve ended up with, O and the fact that he’s an extremist too….