Never underestimate this fighting dreamer.
“Polite Society” is a British-Indian action comedy that doesn’t succumb to traditional cliches, but rather allow these women to be smart and versatile. I mean no disrespect to any culture; I’m saying we should see them in different lights, like how “Everything Everywhere All At Once” loved Chinese culture, but also loved the multiverse and its infinite possibilities. This one is no multiverse film, but it is an action film that deserves to be released by Focus Features and Working Title.
Ria Khan (Priya Kansara) has a YouTube channel, where she teaches her viewers martial arts and has her catchphrase “I Am the Fury.” She wishes to become a stuntwoman just like her idol Eunice Huthart, while her teacher (Jenny Funnell) discriminates her as doctor material and she deals with the school bully Kovacks (Sona Babayeva).
Her older sister Lena (Ritu Arya from “Last Christmas” and “Red Notice”) is an unambitious art school dropout, who spends her days moping in bed. Until she falls for the charming geneticist Salim (Akshay Khanna), who does everything he can to make his mother Raheela (Nirma Bucha) happy, but Ria knows he’s up to something. And to make matters worse, he proposes to Lena, she accepts, and they plan to move to Singapore.
That’s when Ria enlists her two BFFs-Clara (Seraphina Beh) and Alba (Ella Bruccoleri)-to sabotage the wedding. But first, they have to find some dirt on him.
Could he be a saint or a demon? That’s for Ria to figure out.
It’s the law of the movies that when a person suspects someone of not being who he/she says he/is is, people always have to accuse her of being stressed or scared. But Ria is able to thrive on that cliche, and discover something bigger. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s going to make you hate these would-be in-laws.
“Polite Society” has some good laughs and captivating stunt work, and if it want to, it can combine those elements. For example, the two sisters have an argument that resorts in them fighting and kicking each other through doors and smashing each other on mirrors. And it closes with their mother (Shobu Kapoor) telling them: “I don’t care who started it; clean up the mess and come downstairs now.”
I grow weary of the suspicion cliches I’ve mentioned, but they don’t take away my interests of this film. Writer/director Nida Manzoor (“We Are Lady Parts”) makes her directorial debut with the right kind of style and leads from two actresses we haven’t heard of yet, but are glad to be introduced to them.
Kansara delivers with the right dialogue and persistence, while Arya has the tone of troubled person who gives up on one dream and thinks she’s in love with another. And Bucha meets well with age as the would-be mother-in-law, who is more sinister than her son.
So this week, I’ve seen two entertaining films set in different parts of Europe. The Nazi action film “Sisu” took place in Finland, while “Polite Society” takes place in England. And yet, these films don’t require big names to sell tickets, but rather ambitious action, sly wit, and dangerous intentions. And they both have strong women, so win win.