"East is East" is an enjoyable "slice of life" comedy about a traditional half-Pahkistani family living in England. As the film opens, the family is preparing for the grand ceremony for their eldest son's arranged marriage. When the groom to be runs from the altar, it brings tremendous shame on the father of the family, played extremely well by Om Puri. Nevertheless, the family carries on, with the youngest son in particular facing a bit of personal trauma along the way, as the family deals with the many conflicts which arise between traditional Pakistani life and modern culture in England.
As "slice of life" films go, "East is East" truly does a good job taking the viewer into the life of the family during good times and bad. The viewer is allowed to see the moments where the Father asserts his will and dominance within the family and acts violently towards his wife, as well as a scene in which the family's only daughter breaks into an impromptu entertaining dance while sweeping the floor to Pakistani music. While the scene does little to drive the story of the film, it is a very special scene nonetheless, as it offers something that seems a bit more real. In addition, the viewer is really given an opportunity to understand the dynamics of the family. Also a treat to watch are the many interactions between the English and the Pakistanis. The relationships between the Pakistani father and the English mother, their daughter and their youngest son's English friend who is smitten with her, and the relationship between the second eldest son and his English girlfriend, her friend and his younger (middle) brother are always entertaining and interesting.
Although there is often a serious tone to some of the more dramatic elements of the film, "East is East" definitely has its share of comedy. Much of that comedy focuses around the family's youngest son, who like Kenny from "South Park" spends much of the film in a heavy hooded overcoat. He is constantly being pushed or thrown around, and is also the subject of a fair amount of bathroom humor. Even the often-stern father takes part in the comedy of the film, especially, when being shown pictures of his possible future daughters-in-law.
Overall, this is an enjoyable film. While perhaps the viewer may wish for something more with respect to some of the characters, the film does do a good job of bringing the viewer into the family as it struggles between its British and Pakistani identities, often a difficult struggle for the family. The filmmakers avoid the impulse to be overly judgmental in looking at the family, merely presenting the family and its members for what they are. The end result works well and is well worth watching as an alternative to some of the summer blockbusters now being released on DVD. The Picture
While one does not necessarily expect the same picture clarity one might find with a big blockbuster release, the picture quality on "East is East" is actually quite good. The film is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen, with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The digital transfer looks good throughout the film, with few imperfections or pixelations apparent while watching it. In addition, the colors, and skin tones all appear fairly accurate in the film.
"East is East" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. While the film is unquestionably driven by dialogue, the film makes good, subtle use of surround sound, as even the water running in the background in a scene shot in the fish market comes through from the back speakers. Much like the picture of the film, the sound transfer of the film exceeded my expectations.
While the sound and picture of the DVD exceeded expectations, the bonus features of this DVD are lacking. The only bonus feature included on this DVD is the theatrical trailer.
Possibly due to the egocentricities of the American movie-going public, relatively few films depicting Pakistani or Indian life. As a result, this slice of life film is quite an enjoyable experience. While the film is neither funny enough or compelling enough to warrant watching this film on repeat occasions, it is definitely worth renting, especially for fans of British and other foreign films.