West is West follows the story of George Khan (Om Puri), a Pakistani immigrant, his stoic but strong British wife, and their children as they struggle with living between two cultures in England and Pakistan in the 1970s. The sequel to 1990’s East is East, the film picks up the narrative as George’s youngest son, Sajid (Aqib Khan), now a teenager and sick of being bullied at school, begins rebelling against his heritage. To teach him a lesson, George plans a trip back to Pakistan, where his first wife and their daughters live. Sajid reluctantly begins to come of age with the help of a wizened older mentor and George, racked with guilt for leaving his family behind for 30 years, decides to extend the trip without telling his British wife. It’s been done before with a different cast and a different culture, but the film’s showcase of the universal way loving, albeit dysfunctional, families deal with their crises makes it compelling, and one climatic scene where George’s first wife forces her British rival to sit down and communicate is so moving and conveys the built up rage, the passion turned despair, and the similarity of the polar-opposite cultures so touchingly that it brings the whole film to another level.
West is West premieres on September 12, with additional screenings on September 14 and 18