Friday, May 28, 2010


Once again, Film Movement brings us a little known gem of a movie.  Arranged did not, as best I can tell, get much play in American theaters.  It played in film festivals in 2007 and 2008, won a couple of festival awards, and made it into Film Movement's DVD catalog.  Its obscurity is undeserved.

Rochel and Nasira meet as first year teachers in a New York public school.  They are certainly not prime candidates for friendship: Rochel is an orthodox Jew, Nasira, a muslim.  But they soon find they have something in common: their families are arranging marriages for them.  Neither is very excited about it, but they bond in their discomfort and help each out through the ordeal.  In an age in which these two groups sometimes want to blow each other up (as in For My Father), it's nice to see a portrayal of two families who take their religion and culture very seriously, yet have room for friendship with others.
The film belittles neither tradition.  Even thought each girl has reservations about the arrangement process specifically, and reveal some hints at wanting to reject the faith of their families, they seem to be committed, respectful, and faithful.  In fact, the only bigotry we see comes from the principal of the school, who chides them for not joining the women's movement, urging to reject their superstitions and join the modern world.

Both of these girls are delightful, charming, and attractive; they are both a catch for any man.  Arranged puts a positive spin on arranged marriages while poking fun at the process at the same time.  I have never been exposed first-hand to the culture of arranged marriage, but I think even its proponents in these religious communities will end the movie with a smile on their faces.

Bottom line, 3 stars.

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