This adaptation of Monica Ali’s novel Brick Lane begins with a fairy tale reverie of a prologue in which two teenaged sisters, clad in vibrant colors of yellow and purple, lovingly race alongside each other through an emerald field outside their village in Bangladesh. Soon enough, the reverie ends.
There’s an overhead shot of children plunging into a murky pond, frolicking and splashing; they can’t see that, downstream, the girls’ mother solemnly wades in carrying a golden urn. She lets the vessel fill up with water, and clutching it, she descends beneath the surface and drowns. Her lifeless body returns to float among the lily pads. The elder girl, Nazneen, then finds herself swept away into an arranged marriage in another country.
The movie leaps forward in time to the grown-up Nazneen (Tannishtha Chatterjee) now living with two daughters of her own in a crowded tenement on London’s East End, a neighborhood thriving with Bengali immigrants and curry shops that line the boulevard. And she is married . . .
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