Film Review: Everywhere and Nowhere

Everywhere and Nowhere is a well-meaning attempt to depict the lives of contemporary Asian youth on screen. Unfortunately the cluttered narrative fails to convey the film’s intentions.

Ash is the youngest of three siblings, living with his brother while studying for his degree. Ash’s real passion is DJing, which is at odds with the wishes of his strict Asian family. Ash finds it difficult to reconcile the world of nightclubs and hanging out with his friends with the expectations of his family…

One of the main problems with Everywhere and Nowhere is that it tries to fit too much into its running time. There are too many strands, some of which never get resolved. Each of Ash’s friends has their own preoccupation, which detracts somewhat from the primary narrative. Furthermore, there is plenty more going on in the film (such as extra-marital affairs and interracial relationships), all of which are tangents from the central plot. The film should revolve around Ash’s desire to become a DJ, but is often side-tracked by a multitude of other issues.

Everywhere and Nowhere‘s second major issue is that it focuses upon the usual Asian fixations. It would be interesting to see a film with an Asian protagonist that does not revolve around a culture clash narrative. Instead, Everywhere and Nowhere fulfils the regular stereotype, pitting traditional family expectations against the westernised desires of a teen brought up in London. The film goes beyond this, however, and features a plethora of other race and culture-based strands. These include arranged marriages, religious extremism, interracial relationships and ailing parents. Menhaj Huda’s film appears to want to tick every stereotype in the book, and is very messy as a result of this.

The dialogue is clunky at times, which can grate. Ash’s relationship with Bella seems rushed and ill thought out. There is one scene that features the couple in particular which viewers may find uneasy. After trying to cover so many areas, the film’s ending is rushed and unsatisfactory.

James Floyd gives an acceptable performance as Ash; he is not really helped by the script. Adam Deacon brings some humour as Zaf, while Shivani Ghai is decent as the pretty but conflicted Sairah. Katia Winter and Simon Webbe have fairly restricted roles, while Art Malik is underused in his miniscule part.

Everywhere and Nowhere tries to encompass a great deal; the film’s overreaching is detrimental to say the least. Bend It Like Beckham is far more enjoyable, in terms of the Asian culture clash theme.

Film Review: Chalet Girl

It may not transcend age boundaries in the same way as Mean Girls, but Chalet Girl is still a fun teen movie. With its mix of comedy, romance and drama, the film’s intended audience should not be disappointed.

Kim is stuck in a rut working in a fast-food restaurant in London. When she is offered the job of a chalet girl, she is reluctant to leave her undomesticated father. After taking a leap of faith, Kim is thrust into a world of snowboarding, posh girls and attractive young men…

Chalet Girl is a fun piece of fluff that does not take itself too seriously. The film deals with the usual teenage concerns, and is quite predictable as a result. Nevertheless, Chalet Girl provides a fun journey to its inevitable conclusion. The pacing is good; director Phil Traill never allows the film to drag.

The humour in Chalet Girl will most likely appeal to younger audience members. There are plenty of sight gags, in keeping with skiing theme. Similarly, the romance storyline features all the trials and tribulations of a teen love story. Although it is clear from the outset what the end result will be, there are plenty of bumps along the way.

The characters featured in Chalet Girl are fairly archetypal for this type of teen romantic comedy. Kim is the fish out of water in a world filled with the luxuries of the wealthy. In being ordinary, Kim is a character that most will be able to relate to. She is depicted as being down to earth, a contrast to other chalet girls such as Georgie. The film features a scene where Kim goes for a job interview, competing with young ladies who are well-spoken and immaculate. This sequence does well to emphasise the class difference present in the film, as well as providing humour.

Most refreshing in Chalet Girl is that Kim’s gender is not an issue in pursuing the sport she enjoys. Although Chalet Girl shares a number of parallels with Bend It Like Beckham, thankfully the film is not preoccupied with overcoming obstacles because the protagonist is female. Rather, Kim is able to pursue her interest in snowboarding without it being considered solely a sport for men.

Felicity Jones is bright and well cast as Kim. She portrays the character’s commonness well, particularly in contrast to Tamsin Egerton’s glamorous Georgie. Ed Westwick as Jonny will no doubt pull in Gossip Girl fans, while UK film stalwarts such as Bill Nighy should ensure interest from British audiences.

Chalet Girl may not be an awards contender, but it is still enjoyable stuff. Although the film will primarily appeal to a young teen audience, adults should also find the mindless entertainment fun.

Film Review: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife

Director Gurinder Chadha said in a recent interview that she was sick of making romantic comedies. Perhaps not the best way to promote your new film; a romantic comedy.

It’s a Wonderful Afterlife tells the story of Roopi, a British-Asian woman, and her mother who is desperate to see her daughter married. So desperate in fact, that she has taken to murdering those who get in the way…

The story is very flimsy, based on a rather ridiculous premise. This would not matter if the film was consistently humorous. However, the film is weak in this area; although there are some funny gags, it lacks the frequency of comedy you would hope for from this genre.

Goldy Notay shines in It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, giving an earnest performance despite the material she has to work with. The one highlight of this film is in its casting of Notay as the leading lady; it is refreshing to see someone in this role who is not stereotypically attractive, as with most rom-coms. Thus, when she struggles to find a partner or laments her situation, the audience can believe her.

It is a pity that less effort was spent developing the other characters in the film. Sendhil Ramamurthy is attractive as the love interest, but there is not much else too him. One is never given too much of an impression as to how his character feels, or his motivations. Sally Hawkins is bright and entertaining as the best friend Linda, although her Carrie-inspired sequence goes on a lot longer than necessary, thus losing any initial amusement.

It is decidedly positive that Chadha has chosen to take a different direction. Whilst Bend It Like Beckham was a fun and engaging film; this most recent offering  is far less inspired. Coupled with this is Chadha’s inclination to offer a very similar, stereotypical depiction of Asians (particularly Asian parents) in almost all her films. By avoiding the romantic comedy genre, hopefully her next film will offer more originality.