A film setting out to tell of the unlikely friendship between an Orthodox Jew and a devout Muslim must struggle mightily to avoid building-bridges PSA terrain; Arranged simply surrenders to expectation. Viewers are literally schooled on cultural sensitivity: First-year teachers Rochel (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Nasira (Francis Benhamou) are initially united in imparting tolerance to their students, then in resisting their boomer principal's attempts to forcibly liberate them from the "patriarchal" chains of faith. That outsider's bond is sealed as they commiserate over the stress of their upcoming arranged marriages. Walking around Brooklyn together earns them plenty of close-upped queer looks, though directors Diane Crespo and Stefan C. Schaefer sidestep the big interfaith conflicts in favor of a benevolent cross-cultural show-and-tell (the film's evenhandedness is mathematically calibrated). Lamentable scenes include that comic relief stand-by, the Bad Date Montage, but the movie comes off better than it should by virtue of Benhamou and (especially) Lister-Jones, appealing and modest young actors who create a plausible central relationship between "See what good friends we are?" photo ops.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- Scott Adkins Plays a Badass Actually Named ‘Colt McReady’ In the Effective ‘Close Range’
- Meet the Pole Who Tried to Warn the World About the Holocaust in ‘Karski & the Lords...
- Jane Fonda Faced Down the Seventies and a Killer in Pakula’s Masterful ‘Klute’
- He’ll Get Your Head Shaking: Surveying the Start of Chung Mong-hong’s (Likely) Great...