Asian Americanness in an Adopted Home City

A Film Review of The Namesake同名人

It has been a long time since I felt touched in U.S. until I watched this film tonight. I was kept in the mood of being in the cinema and I could stop myself from hitting on two Bengali-like strangers on the Cambus about the film. Unlike “Slumdog Millionaire”, which stuffs flashbacks of the ghetto memories into a pastiche of TV quiz show clues with perfect beats and well-shaped structures, “The Namesake” drags its audiences into the story without a hint of formalism. Setups are non-detectable until they are reinforced again in the second half of the film. The story flows naturally, starting with the Father’s encounter of a train wreck, the inspiration and encouragement to see the world that he got from the old man who is not lucky enough to survive, and his complex of Nikolai Gogol.

“Everything after that is a gift.” The father says to his confusing son, whose name, rather than identity, seems to be more bothersome to himself. The film develops as the son gradually finds his Asia Americanness of being in a second generation of an immigrant family.

Racism is merely mentioned. Xenophobia is overwhelmed by nostalgia. The filmmaker attempts to deal with life in the context of an immigration family in New York city, and it is successful in shunning from the conventional Asian American films that are politically and ideologically stressed. The film achieves the epistemological level of finding freeness as its final resolution – Ashima’s going back to her homeland and learning singing from the master again.


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