...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

December 13, 2007

The Namesake - 5

This is a story about the conflict of cultural assimilation in America faced by immigrants to this country. This story tells of Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli, from India in the 1970's and transitions into the struggle of their son Gogol (Kal Penn) to discover who he is. It is through his unusual name that the film gets it title as well as the momentum to tell the story of how one's name can be an impetus to discover not only the meaning and reason for the name, but a deeper, richer story. Gogol soon discovers that his name is unusual in America and the he is named after a famous Russian author. Initially rejecting his parents and his heritage, he later regrets this when he starts to discover why his parents named him Gogol, and the love that they have for him. The story wanders most of the time but ends by resolving the inner conflict Gogol feels as he discovers that he is his father's son, and that his family is most important to him.
This film is an adaptation of the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, and while I have not read it, the book seems much more nuanced (as books can sometimes show the reader the thinking and internal emotions of characters more clearly) and thoughtful than this film could really do justice to. The film moves slowly and at times is rather disjointed. While it starts with plenty of potential it cannot sustain it for the two hours of the film.

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