2007 / Mira Nair > It’s a rare thing that celluloid beats its paper foundation, but The Namesake does just that. Personally, I’ve found Jhumpa Lahiri’s writing style to be better fitting for short stories, but maybe I’m biased: The first two-thirds of the novel deal with things I’ve personally experienced, while the third is fairly uncharted territory. For that, maybe Nair’s pacing fit me better.
The film itself is graceful, respectful, ignoring the stereotypes that often plague cinema that crosses cultural boundaries (and for this, both Lahiri and Nair ought to be credited). It’s not perfect, but it has enough universal identification that it should be able to appeal to most of who have a chance to view it. The only dubious factor with the film is Kal Penn being casted for the lead role: He does a suitable job, but it’s just hard to forget that this is Kumar we’re talking about. The rest is quite appropriate, with special note to Tabu’s performance as the beautiful, maturing mother who can make or break the viewer’s heart.