Films | Movie Reviews | Movie Review: Americanizing Shelley

Movie Review: Americanizing Shelley

Posted by Vivek on August 26, 2008 | No Comments

Film is about communicating with the masses. Or so it was meant to be. Every so often comes a film, which reminds us that humans are inherently alike. A film which appeals due to it’s very simplicity, yet if the layers are removed it reveals a lot of depth. A film, which is your “common every person’s film.” A film, which is light, humorous, yet not bereft of an inherent understanding of human interaction and emotions.

Americanizing Shelley is one such film.

This review is on viewing the “work in progress” screening at the San Diego Film Festival.

The film is about hope, the film is a story of two individuals, Shelley and Rob, both on different sides of the universe, but both inherently very similar people. Shelley from the Himalayas and Rob from Georgia, USA. Then their paths meet. Hollywood and the celluloid beckon. But while the plunge is reluctant, the determination to succeed in these two clean hearted, yet simple people, is inherent and a part of their persona. This light hearted comedy takes us to the transformation of Shalini Singh to Shelley and the part which Rob plays in that.

However, this is not your traditional girl meets boy fare. The “others” give a fine performance and will perhaps be remembered as much, when the dust has settled. RonReaco Lee, who plays Rob’s buddy, Blaine, Shaheen Khan and Ajay Mehta as Shelley’s parents, Tony Yalda as the “unhappy,” looking Happy Singh are names that will resonate Hollywood in the years to come.

The newcomers, like Phillip Rhyes, who plays the antagonist, Neil Brar, blend well, with the veterans like Beau Bridges.

The film is about comic timing without being excessive. Namrata Singh Gujral,with two portrayals as the simple Shalini and then the “street smart Hollywood player” Shelley, gives a classical performance as both, with a fine flair for comedy. As “Shelley/Shalini,” Namrata shows that uncanny ability to carry a film almost entirely on her shoulders. Having seen Namrata do dramatic and serious roles earlier, the fact that she moves so seamlessly into comedy, reveals an actor who can fit into multiple kinds of characters and ethnicities. Her ability to emote is effortless and she appears to be made for the canvass.

Brad Raider as “your average American,” is a talent to watch out for and then there is my favorite, RonReaco. Watch him enact the role of the Sikh!! This film talks about the reality of the American culture, the ability to be what one wants to be, the ability to reach out and help, the desire to welcome all who have the heart to go for it and finally as the land of HOPE. Yet the film is not preachy, far from it. It enacts a natural sequence of events, which reveal the message.
The songs, which range from Country Western to Bhangra to Fusion, enhance the flow and the frolic. This film is a universal story, yet a simple story, but a story which achieves it’s objective of “feel good comedy.” Lorraine, the director, rises to the challenge of telling a cross cultural story and the other highlight of this film, is it’s crisp editing.

The version I saw, was a “work in progress test screening,” so clearly there is further upside potential for this already, in my view, “ready” film. In my world cinema is about entertainment, there is enough dark and stark reality in the world outside the cinema hall, for me to look for the truth inside the movie theater. For pure entertainment and for being true to what it claims to be, I give this film a 10.5 on 10 and also feel it well worth the $10.00, for the pure comic relief and sense of joy and hope it brings to the viewer.

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