india sweets and spices
director: Geeta Malik (troublemaker)
starring: sophia taylor ali, rish shah, manisha koirala, and depti gupta
REVIEWER: lyall carter
When college freshman Alia returns home for the summer, she discovers secrets and lies in her parents' past that make her question everything she thought she knew about her family.
After returning from college, young Alia upends her family's well-ordered life with her brash new independence. When secrets about her parents come to light during a dinner party, it soon pushes her to a daring confrontation.
India Sweets and Spices is typical of its genre in that it’s essentially a tale about a first generation immigrant and her struggles with the cultural expectations expressed by her parents, relatives, and others within her community.
This is often expressed through a postmodern, Western push for the protagonist towards self expression and individualization outside of their cultural expectations, a romantic partner foreign to their cultural community that challenges their attachment to said culture, or friction towards a certain aspect of their culture.
Many films such as Bend It Like Beckham, Minari, and The Farewell have done this in fresh, raw, heartwarming, and poignant ways. India Sweets and Spices feels too overly stylized to be truly heartwarming and not challenging enough to be raw or poignant.
That’s not to say that India Sweet and Spices doesn’t have its moments from the exposition regarding the women’s movement in India (if not a little brief) to the superb, steely, layered performances from Gupta and Koirala.
More sweet than spicy, India Sweet and Spices has its moments but is ultimately too stylized to be truly heartwarming and not challenging enough to be raw or poignant.