With the exception of George and his wife, Ella (Linda Bassett), the film gives us cartoons rather than complicated human beings. East Is East is best when it lets us see the bewilderment beneath George's rage or the way Ella walks a tightrope to defend her children without undermining her husband's shaky self-esteem. Bassett has a quiet authority and an appealing sense of humor, but East Is East is largely a showcase for Puri, and he rises to the occasion with a performance that bursts from the screen and tears into your heart.

Up Faith hill: Stiller, Elfman, and Norton keep it clean.
photo: Sante D'Orazio
Up Faith hill: Stiller, Elfman, and Norton keep it clean.


Keeping the Faith
Directed by Edward Norton
Written by Stuart Blumberg
A Touchstone release
Opens April 14

East Is East
Directed by Damien ODonnell
Written by Ayub Khan-Din
A Miramax release
Opens April 14

Where the Money Is
Directed by Marek Kanievska
Written by E. Max Frye, Topper Lilien, and Carroll Cartwright
A USA release
Opens April 14

Paul Newman idles gracefully through Where the Money Is, a caper film hardly worthy of his presence. Newman plays a gentleman bank robber who fakes a stroke to escape from jail. Linda Fiorentino is the nurse who sees through his con and latches onto him as a way of escaping her dead-end life. Although Fiorentino throws sparks at Newman, he's too wary of falling into the dirty-old-man trap to reciprocate with more than a knowing glance. Only when he gets behind the wheel of a getaway car does he merge the older Paul Newman with the Paul Newman of old.

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