We all have those day dreams where we imagine situations going differently, where we’re the main character and hero of the story who saves the day and earns the admiration. The dreams are often fantasy and take on extreme liberties with reality to fuel our desires. Polite Society feels like a fever dream. It starts off innocent enough with a young girls dream of becoming a stuntwoman but quickly evolves into madness. Martial arts fights, heists, conspiracies, and secret labs are all just the tip of the iceberg. Polite Society is balls to the wall action and humor as it turns one girl’s fantasy into her reality. There’s no other film quite like it.
Ria Khan (Priya Kansara) aspires to be a stuntwoman, following in the footsteps of Eunice Huthart. But when her sister Lena (Ritu Arya) drops out of art school and starts dating a new guy, Ria becomes determined to break them up so Lena can focus on her artistic talent and not some rich playboy. While everyone else appears to be moving on with their lives, Ria fully believes that there is something sinister behind this engagement and is determined to save her sister no matter what it takes.
Polite Society starts off around a 10 and then continues to build and build to absolutely ridiculous levels as the film punches, kicks, and throws its way forward. Director Nida Manzoor excels in her feature film directorial debut. I can see influences from the likes of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block, but Manzoor creates something that is uniquely her own. It’s a perfect blend of action and comedy that reaches Spinal Tap levels. Characters talk and fight like they’re in the Matrix pulling off impossible feats like it was an everyday occurrence. Only in Polite Society could you have a Fight Club type brawl where a student girl is slammed into a trophy cabinet and nobody, not even the teachers, bats an eye at it.
The majority Polite Society‘s high octane energy comes from leads Priya Kansara and Ritu Arya. Kansara has a contagious excitement and hunger when it comes to following her dreams and her bubbly persona overflows on screen. Like she constantly says in the film, she is “the Fury.” She exudes a fiery passion that you can’t help but smile at. Then you have Arya, who helps ground the film with her more reasonable and calm outlook on life. Even though she’s a creative herself as well, she’s older and has faced more of life’s realities than her younger sister. Arya plays wonderfully opposite Kansara.
And yet despite their differing outlooks on life, they’re still supportive of each other. Lena happily films her sister as she practices her stunts in front of the camera, and while Ria is determined to break up her sisters engagement, it’s from a place of love. The family dynamics are just as you would expect. Anyone with brothers or sisters knows how outrageous sibling arguments can be. We love our family. That doesn’t mean we always have to like them though.
Polite Society is all about letting your freak flag fly. Ria continues to follow her dream of becoming a stuntwoman even though everyone else sees it as unrealistic. It feels like Ria is a stand-in for Nida Manzoor. Polite Society is this weird, witty, action-oriented film that doesn’t neatly fit in any single genre box. It’s Manzoor’s vision, and she absolutely nails it. In a time when reboots, sequels, and superheroes stuff the theaters, Polite Society kicks them all to the curb. It’s unique identity cannot be ignored. There’s no telling where this wild story will go. All you can do is hold on to the edge of your seat and enjoy the ride.
Polite Society is balls to the wall action and humor as it turns one girl’s fantasy into her reality. There’s no other film quite like it.