Monday, September 25, 2017

TIFF 17 Film Review - What Will People Say

The balance between embracing the culture of your new land and maintaining the values of your homeland are difficult choices that each family and the community at large have to face when emigrating. The larger the difference between the old and the new homes enlarges the struggle with potential language and religious differences fostering a larger dependence on the community of ex-pats in the new local. Nisha (Maria Mozhdah) is 16 and popular amongst her Norwegian high school friends. She outgoing, comfortable in Western clothing and even gaining interest from the local boys. At home she follows Pakistani traditions, is front and centre at family gathering even if she might sneak out to see her friends when her parents think that she has gone to bed. He dad Mirza (Adil Hussain) is happy that she is doing well with her studies. Her mother is not fooled by her act and wonders what shame she will bring to her family and by extension to the Pakistani community.

Writer director Iram Haq expertly builds the narrative seemingly at a slow steady pace several times during the piece then a sudden act occurs that spins the viewer around in circles. The first being when Nisha's father discovers her boyfriend in her room leading to the strictest form of punishment to save face for the family and serve as a warning to other teens in the Pakistani community. During these heightened exchanges Nisha pleads with her dad no believing what is in store for her raising the tension up to fever pitch levels.

Maria Mozhdah leads the cast as Nisha. To the Western viewer she is not doing anything wrong but her actions on several occasion are interpreted to an insult to the family and a definite sense of shame to her self that make her an outcast on to sides of the planet. Adil Hussain gives a heavily nuanced performance as her father Mirza. Nisha is obviously has favourite child which makes it ever the more painful for him that he continually has to punish her. Look for Sheeba Chaddha as Nisha' Pakistani Aunt. She is having no talk back from her niece after she is banished from Norway to her home keeping her busy in the kitchen when not under a watchful eye when the pair are out at the market.

What Will People say is a story about a clash of cultures. Nisha finds herself stuck exactly in the middle. She is willing to participate in traditional Pakistani events and ceremonies but wants to be with her friends in her spare time. The harshness venom and trickery used against her by her supposed loving family is shocking. It's these types of rigid cultural positions that give rise to honour killings. It's a compelling study of the conflict between culture and society that I can highly recommend.

**** Out of 4.

What Will People Say | Iram Haq | Norway / Germany / Sweden | 2017 | 106 Minutes.

Tags: Norway, Child Services, Pakistan, Police Corruption, Birthday Party, Arranged Marriage, Bed Check, Canada, Kites.

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