For this week’s #FaithFilmFriday, Insight team member and blogger Hayley Atkin explores five films that explore marriage across different faiths, cultures and contexts.
#FaithFilmFriday: film 1
Director: Joel Zwick
Zwick’s Canadian-American romantic comedy charts the struggles of Toula, a modern career girl, who has been raised in a Greek Orthodox family and her struggles to settle down and find a ‘suitable’ husband. Naturally, the focal point of the film is the tension that arises between her family’s idea of the ‘ideal’ husband, who undoubtedly has to have been baptised in the Greek Orthodox Church and part of the Greek American community and Toula’s open-mindedness in her search for a life partner.
Of course, Toula falls for a non-Greek, Ian, who is thrown in at the deep end with her family as he has to seek their respect and acceptance. As is to be expected, hilarity ensues with a number of cultural clashes and misunderstandings in cross-cultural communication between the families of the bride and groom. Although seemingly a light-hearted comedy, this film is not purely a source for laughter, but a great illustration of the wider, familial implications of marriage and the need for compromise and acceptance from all parties.
#FaithFilmFriday: film 2
Director: Diane Crespo and Stefan Schaefer
Arranged, an American independent film, centres on the blossoming friendship between two young women – an Orthodox Jew and a devout Muslim – who meet as first-year public school teachers in Brooklyn, New York City. Rochel and Nasira find common ground in the fact that they often feel out of place in the fast-paced, modern city and are struggling to reconcile this way of life with the respective traditions of their faith.
However, it is the fact that these women are both expected to enter into arranged marriages that forges the strongest bond between them. The film explores Nasira’s almost naïve optimism in the face of an arranged marriage, which is contrasted with Rochel’s marked trepidation. Ultimately, the friendship creates a space in which the women can, for all of the their religious and cultural differences, come to terms the daunting prospect of an arranged marriage together by forming a humourous and heartwarming network of mutual support.
#FaithFilmFriday: film 3
Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Originally intended for an Indian audience, Namastey London is a romantic drama that sees Manmohan take his British-born daughter, Jazz, back to her ancestral India where he arranges her marriage. From the outset he struggles to match Jazz with a potential Indian husband as they reject her for the western values she has acquired during her British upbringing.
Eventually, finding an agreeable and potential suitor, Manmohan force Jazz to marry Arjun Singh who apparently does not know how to speak English and they return to England. A headstrong Jazz refuses to recognise the marriage and insists on marrying well-educated, white British-born Charlie Brown, whose Christian family struggle to accept her, casting various racist judgements over her Indian background. Now, I won’t ruin the ending, but naturally Jazz has to choose between the two men and the outcome raises some interesting questions about the realities of intercultural marriage.
#FaithFilmFriday: film 4
Director: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
As a 3D computer-animated adventure film, Disney’s Up would appear to be an unlikely pick for this week’s #FaithFilmFriday. However, at its heart, Up celebrates all things to do with marriage, love and partnership. The film is a touching portrayal of 78-year old widower, Carl, as he comes to terms with life after the death of the love of his life, Ellie.
In order to reconnect with the world around him, Carl decides to embark on an adventure to South America, fulfilling a promise he made to his late wife. But just how does Carl set off on this journey? By tying thousands of balloons to his house, of course! With an unexpected houseguest, 8-year old Russell, in tow, Carl explores the wonders of South America and –through his younger counterpart – learns how to live again. Ultimately, this tale becomes an ode to the longevity of love, marriage and how to deal with loss.
#FaithFilmFriday: film 5
Director: David Fincher
Based on Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel of the same name, Gone Girl is a psychological thriller that provides us with the most uneasy and dystopian portrayal of marriage on our list. Following the sudden and seemingly violent, disappearance of his wife, Amy, Nick Dunne quickly becomes the prime suspect in the case. Their marriage soon comes under intense scrutiny when the police find Amy’s diary, detailing every uncomfortable aspect of their married life together.
An uncomfortable, but thought-provoking watch, Gone Girl examines married life through the darkest of lenses. Passion, love, adultery, jealousy, fear and violence are all make up the marital kaleidoscope that the film so cleverly explores. Expect plot twists galore that leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
Product links: 5 films about marriage (UK only)
Film: Joel Zwick, My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), DVD issue 2003, Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine
Film: Diane Crespo and Stefan C Schaefer, Arranged (2007), DVD issue 2009, Zoe Lister Jones, Francis Benhamou, Mimi Lieber
Film: Vipul Amrutlal Shah, Namastey London (2007), DVD issue 2007, Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Rishi Kapoor
Film: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, Up (2009), DVD issue 2010, Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger, Christopher Plummer