West Is West review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
The belated sequel to 1999’s East is East, West is West follows along much of the same themes. Set in 1975 in Manchester in the North of England a British-Pakistani family, the Khan’s, struggle to balance their behaviour and beliefs between their tyrannical and strictly Muslim father and British mother.
East is East was a surprising hit; a comedy with a disturbing and moralistic edge. West is West is clearly aiming for the same effect twelve years on. Now rather than be concerned with the eldest son’s refusal to accept a traditional Muslim marriage and instead leave to become a fashion designer and suspected homosexual like East is East; West is West focuses on the youngest son of the family who is being bullied at school due to his mixed ethnicity and eventually is sent to Pakistan to live with his father’s first wife in an attempt to quell his rising delinquency.
Although West is West still deals with the troubling subject of race, somehow does not manage it with the ease of its predecessor. Where East is East was grounded more in the emotional and familial experience of the characters somehow West is West seems to take a more contextual approach; you can’t help but feel as though it’s trying to explain some of the current issues of immigration to the more ignorant members of its audience.
This ultimately lessens the impact of the film’s theme and it seems somehow simply to float somewhere on the surface, supplying cheerful and easy-going gags along with a handful of emotionally poignant moments that get a little lost in the gentle comedy.