Anita & Me
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
friends forever? This Indians-in-Britain comedy is obviously going for the East Is East audience. Yes, it's enjoyable and funny, but there's not that much to it. We're in a small English village in the 1970s, where Meena (Uppal) is on the verge of puberty, struggling with her family heritage and trying to grow up. Her quirky misbehaviour opens the door to a sort of friend/mentorship with the town bad girl Anita (Brewster), who lives just up the street with her cranky mother (Burke). But this only makes Meena's parents (Dharker and Bhaskar) worry more about their daughter, in between all the other family and community dramas.

There's an offbeat humor that keeps us laughing, even though it never manages to scale the heights of a classic film comedy. None of the characters can quite break out of their stereotypes--Redgrave's pinched shopkeeper, Williams' befuddled priest, Beesley's long-haired hippie, writer Syal's overbearing 'auntie' ... they all seem like stock characters who are well-used in the plot but never deliver on their promise. The scene-stealer is Segal as Meena's outrageous grandmother, while the terrific Dharker and Bhaskar give the film its emotional/comic heart. And the story similarly refuses to come to life. Anita and Meena's friendship never blossoms; we don't really believe in it, which is partly the point, but it leaves a big gap where the film's plot should be. We never really buy into Meena's obsessions, as she doesn't seem to grow up much at all, despite everything that happens. And I'm sorry to nitpick, but her squawky, thickly accented voice on the narration is more than a little irritating, making it even harder to identify with her. Fortunately though, the film is more than watchable due to its details, small bits of comedy and feeling around the edges that keep us engaged and entertained, even if the film's centre never quite grabs hold of us.

cert 12 adult themes and situations, language, violence 5.Aug.02

dir Metin Huseyin
scr Meera Syal
with Chandeep Uppal, Anna Brewster, Ayesha Dharker, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Kathy Burke, Lynne Redgrave, Mark Williams, Max Beesley, Meera Syal, Zohra Segal, Kabir Bedi, Christine Tremarco
release UK 22.Nov.02
BBC-Icon
02/UK 1h33

Pals? Anita is the object of Meena's friendly obsessions (Brewster and Uppal)...

shadows shadows shadows shadows
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
friends forever? send your review to Shadows... Poonam, London: "This exciting new film was an exellent book, and a much better film. I really liked the way Meera Syal worked with racial issues. It's very interesting to see how she has dealt with issues and every Asian person can relate to it. it's a great film for everyone to watch, and a good read too!" (31.Oct.02)

Chandni, Watford: 4.5/5"I loved tha book and tha film, I loved it all!" (23.Sep.06)

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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