A sense of belonging is important to many people.
A sense of identity is important to many people.
A sense of personal history, present and future is important to many. people too.
What happens when any of any of these is either missing or confused?
A lack of clairity abounds, and it is this lack of clarity which is at the heart of the film West is West - a film that follows on from East is East (released in 1999).
In West is West we see the outworking of actions taken
some 30 or so years previously. We see a man who has struggled with his
own identity but not realised it, and, like all suppressed inner
battles, it is lived out in how he treats, reacts to, and engages
emotionally with those around him.
George decides to take his son to Pakistan to show him what it is
like - to show him his 'heritage'. Sajid, who attends a Salford
Secondary School of the mid-70s is being bullied for being a 'Paki' and
sees this as being his father's fault. Sajid's father is a 'Paki', but
George doesn't see himself as one. A proud Pakistani (not
'Paki'), he has been in England for many years, married an English
woman, and has three sons - all born in England. He has sent the elder
two sons over to Pakistan in their turn, but his youngest son he decides
to take there himself for four weeks, but they stay longer - much
George discovers the outcome of the decision made to leave thirty
years before. Sajid discovers a place in which he is accepted and
allowed to be who he is, whatever this might mean. He is able to
discvoer and be this rather than conforming to the model his father
wants him to be - although, in reality, his father doesn't know what
this model should really look like.
There is much to discover in this film: how identity is formed; how
the actions we take that appear so right at the time, can have profound
consequences on others - causing their lives to be altered unalterably;
how living 'decently' can be a masquerade, with the one who is holding
up the mask to hide themselves not even realising it.
It's a good film. Go and see it!