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MOVIES: Polite Society - Review

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Polite Society is one of the most fun films of the year. It’s pure energy, pure enjoyment – drawing from the likes of Bend it Like Beckham, Booksmart and Everything Everywhere All At Once to create what will be a surefire cult classic in the years to come. An actually funny British comedy from the creator of actually funny sitcom We Are Lady Parts was always on the cards, and Nida Manzoor more than delivers. Its premise is a home run: an aspiring stuntwoman finds herself stubbornly determined to the point of sabotage to break up a wedding between her older, art-school dropout sister and her new beau, a too-good-to-be-true billionaire who plans to fly her off to the other side of the world for her honeymoon – and the quest to find dirt on the other half gets wilder as the film progresses.

It's a blast. Infectiously full of energy with an ode to stuntwork and its importance in the Hollywood industry – the lead - Ria Khan - constantly to the point of obsession tries to contact her heroine, a stuntworker working on a “Marvel” too busy to respond, but her parents would prefer she fit the traditional mould of a Doctor. There’s a lot of weight of expectation in society placed upon the characters in these films; and they more than step up to defy it – a rebellion of youth against the previous generation should see Polite Society's themes win over young adults quickly – and the cartoonish portrayal of the villains allows for some easy antagonists. The third act enjoys its escalation into Scott Pilgrim vs. the World territory with some action set-pieces that are finely crafted, often moreso than the movies that it tries to pay homage to – demonstrating a mastery of its craft. Each act is split into title-card headed chapters; each fight given a stylish motif, each combatant given their own unique moves befitting of their character. This is a film that cares, and by the end you will too.

The dynamic between Priya Kansara’s Ria and Ritu Arya’s Lena feels like the typical younger sister/bigger sister dynamic. It’s perfectly illustrated to capture Ria’s immaturity that is shared by Lena’s disappointment over dropping out from at school; wondering the streets of London avoiding running into people she knows out of shame and second-hand embarrassment. The chemistry between both sisters is evident – and Priya Kansara is a rising star, her first movie, excellent and charismatic in the lead role – showcasing the true potential of a future movie star. She’s incredibly charming, likeable and the whole film makes you want her to succeed even when she’s doing objectively terrible things - the clash between both characters gives the film its driving edge through much of the movie; they argue, they fight - Khan vs. Khan is one of the film's emotional highlights, and the pair's journey is one that isn't easy - as you might expect - but it's essential to making the film work.

Fun lately has become something of a put-down for movies and “oh, it’s nothing special but it’s fun”, has become a common turn of phrase. And sure, Polite Society may not have the budget of those movies; nor indeed, half the budget of the movies it’s inspired by – its bombastic final act confined to a solitary Wedding venue – but it captures the essence of a movie that shows the potential of what “fun” can be – special and fun in every sense of the word; instantly rewatchable and instantly likeable. I strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it already to go back and watch the phenomenal We Are Lady Parts after you’ve seen this from the same director; truly a special generational talent – and Polite Society deserves to be up there with the best of them.

Its British insult game? Top tier.

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