Wearing inspiration on your sleeve can be a double edged sword. Lucky for writer/director Nida Manzoor, her love of Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright pays off and then some with Polite Society. A love letter to Kill Bill infused with Wright’s hilarious British wit, Manzoor manages to make it her own in a hilarious and heart filled story of girl power and family bonds. Priya Kansara leads the way with one of the best ensembles so far this year.
Ria (Kansara), an aspiring stuntwoman, spends her high school days making videos in the backyard with her favorite person in the world: her sister Lena (Ritu Arya). Lena used to be an aspiring artist, but has dropped out and spends her days moping around town when she’s not assisting Ria. But after their mother Fatima (Shobu Kapoor) is invited to attend a posh party hosted her friend Raheela (Nimra Bucha), the sisters’ relationship hits a huge snag once Lena is whisked off her feet by Raheela’s son Salim (Akshay Khanna).
Never one to back down from a fight, Ria is convinced something sinister is afoot after stumbling upon a secret lab in Raheela’s house. Since no one will believe her — thanks to her constant daydreaming — she sets off on a quest with her best friends — Clara (Seraphina Beh) and Alba (Ella Bruccoleri) — to save her sister from impending doom whether Lena likes it or not.
Action packed, expertly choreographed, heartfelt, but mostly hilarious, Polite Society was the Kill Bill redux we didn’t know we needed. While that may sound like selling it short, Manzoor makes good on creating her own world, with even some expertly crafted moments of spy movie spoofing to boot. A waxing/interrogation scene is a particular hoot.
Kansara has not been in a lot of things you’ll find familiar outside of season two of Bridgerton, but she is a force to reckon with. Manzoor has called her “the next Tom Cruise,” and considering the acting range she mixes with her action abilities, Manzoor is completely right. A favorite at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it’s one of mine for the year as well.