Posted by: Christine | July 21, 2010

Arranged – Movie Review

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{friendship has no religion} is the tagline of this Brooklyn-based coming-of-age drama.  Arranged, directed by Diane Crespo, takes a fresh look at the traditional lifestyles of two young teachers who become unlikely friends.  Rochel (Zoe Lister Jones) is an introverted Orthodox Jewish woman who is a special education teacher working in a public school assisting a blind student.  The general education teacher (“regular” teacher) in the classroom is Nasira (Francis Benhamou), a lively Muslim woman.

Even though they come from completely different religious backgrounds, Rochel and Nasira bond over all that they have in common: their choice to seek arranged marriages with the assistance of family members, the struggle with an unsympathetic secular world, and the need to cope with how they are stereotyped by others.  Rochel realizes how much her mother’s intolerance is at odds with her own approach when she’s forced to ask her new Muslim friend, Nasira, to leave her home.  Meanwhile, Nasira begins to find traces of promise in her family’s search for her mate, and even finds a way to boost Rochel’s cause for marital hope as well.

My favorite element of Arranged is how the lead actresses portrayed their characters with such tenderness, vulnerability, and tenderness.  I felt as though I could feel the tension tugging them between their chosen commitments and the opportunity to trade them in for an easier way of life.  As a Catholic Christian, I can relate to their desire to walk the narrow path for the sake of Heaven, the resistance they face from outsiders not committed to their faith, and the lack of understanding from the family that is supposed to be supportive.  Their performances were inspired and full of life and truth.

Moreover, the cinematography and thematic soundtrack contributed to the authentic feel of the film. Arranged combines drama with the comedy of the frustrations of daily life and family.  I highly recommend this film for all audiences, and all ages from teen and up (there are some sexual references).  Arranged is definitely worth tracking down the DVD on your inter-library loan system, or even paying the quite reasonable $10.99 to purchase it on the film’s website.

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