review by Bobby Blakey
The world of Bollywood is an interesting one bringing the culture, dancing, singing and over the top action to pretty much any genre it delivers. The latest Polite Society isn’t from Bollywood, but looks to be bringing a similar format to its premise infusing martial arts into the culture and family story. The film stars Priya Kansara, Ritu Arya, Nimra Bucha, Akshay Khanna, Seraphina Beh, and Ella Bruccoleri from director Nida Manzoor. Could this film bring the action and fun it promises or will it fail to land the final blow?
Polite Society follows a merry mash up of sisterly affection, parental disappointment and bold action, Polite Society follows martial artist-in-training Ria Khan who believes she must save her older sister Lena from her impending marriage. After enlisting the help of her friends, Ria attempts to pull off the most ambitious of all wedding heists in the name of independence and sisterhood.
I have to say I was really looking forward to this film. The trailer was unexpected and looked all kinds of fun. I was glad to see something that looked fresh and new that infused culture with the martial arts and coming of age looking story to deliver something different than what has been getting put out there. Now that I have seen it I can tell you that while it is entertaining at times and fun, I was a bit disappointed in the overall film.
The initial story is fine and sets up a great story dealing with this young girls struggles as a young woman and dreams of her own future while veering away from some of the expectations of her family. It is pretty by the numbers here, but Priya Kansara and her friends played by Seraphina Beh, and Ella Bruccoleri are fun to watch. Their chemistry and delivery make the film work more than it doesn’t. The relationship between Ria and her sister played by Ritu Arya is another strong aspect to the film that makes it entertaining while we are dealing with the day to day life and struggles.
It takes a bit of a turn when the wedding planning starts and shifts the focus to something more nefarious and to be honest kind of silly. This sends the story into a generic format for me with no one believing her and random plans to thwart what is really happening. This could have worked still had the fights been a lot better and for Ria to actually when a fight once in a while. I understand the direction they were going for, but for setting up something that makes her training all the time and never doing all that great makes it hard for you to buy into when it does.
The fight sequences here and there are plenty were sadly just kind of average and forgettable. I give props to everyone trying their best and obviously wasn’t expecting some Donnie Yen level skills, but I was hoping for more since it was the focus of the story. It also throws too many people here that just happen to be trained as well in a story that it just doesn’t fit into.
I so wanted to love this film and while I didn’t hate it, I walked away feeling it was a missed opportunity. There is something there and it is worth checking out as it has some fun moments, but in the end failed to capture what I think it could have been.
Decide for yourself and check out Polite Society in theaters now from Focus Features.