Polite Society – Review

Release Date – 28th April 2023, Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 44 minutes, Director – Nida Manzoor

Teenager Ria (Priya Kansara) believes that her older sister Lena (Ritu Arya) is changing for the worse, and forgetting her passions, as she prepares to marry short-term boyfriend Salim (Akshay Khanna) in a wedding which Ria is determined to stop.

Much of Polite Society’s sharpness comes from its style. The way the fight scenes add explosive bursts of energy to the distinct lines of a colourful British comedy. This is a film with an identity. There are familiar tones and elements (in that aforementioned British vein) but there’s plenty of energy and creativity on display to make for a highly engaging piece of work hopefully on course to become a notable British title.

Teenager Ria (Priya Kansara) aspires to be a stuntwoman, making videos for YouTube displaying her skills. She works with her older sister, art school dropout Lena (Ritu Arya), on these. There’s a great chemistry between the pair as they train and party together while their parents (Shobu Kapoor, Jeff Mirza) are out of the house. However, their bond begins to fade when Lena begins a relationship with wealthy doctor Salim (Akshay Khanna). Ria believes that her sister is becoming a different person, forgetting her art and who she was before the relationship, and when the couple quickly announce their engagement she sets out to break them up. But how can she take down a man who seems so spotless?

Helping her she has best friends Clara (Seraphina Beh) and Alba (Ella Bruccoleri), making for three personalities who truly capture the feeling of an excellent friendship. Not quite the ‘weird’ kids but not amongst the popular crowd they’re slightly at a distance from the other crowds at school. The trio’s performances and chemistry bring about a number of laughs and just a highly enjoyable friendship group to truly liven up the scheming and plan execution on display. The humour comes through with ease thanks to the featured personalities and the clear effort that has gone into the screenplay from writer-director Nida Manzoor; a rapidly rising British talent following on from her acclaimed TV series We Are Lady Parts.

Amongst the humour there’s plenty of action on display. The fight scenes are well choreographed to embrace martial arts films of the past with grounded contexts and settings to allow for the drama to come through. Particularly when it comes to the threat at hand. There are some truly dark moments dotted throughout, especially when it comes to Ria’s interactions with Salim’s mother (Nimra Bucha) who creates genuine tension through her performance. Even if Ria is being constantly disproved with her increasingly dangerous attempts to prove Salim’s disguised intentions the film does a good job of posing Bucha’s Raheela as a consistent antagonist.

The blend of genres all adds to the overall style which the film wears throughout. Everything comes together to create a highly enjoyable piece of work hopefully destined to have legs beyond its initial release. The strong chemistry between the characters helps to heighten the events which take place and connects you more to the action, which itself adds flair to the overall piece feeling a strong part of it even when it might feel (effectively) tonally different. It all comes together to make for a very entertaining film that knows exactly how to work its originality into the narrative to strengthen itself. 2023 is shaping up as an excellent year for British films, and emerging British talent.

Funny, smart and effectively blending influences Polite Society is a highly entertaining piece of work showcasing a great deal of British talent with shedloads of chemistry both in front of and behind the camera.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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