Nida Manzoor is out to smash far more than a wedding in the action-packed, deeply feminist satire Polite Society. After creating the hit sitcom We Are Lady Parts, she’s set her sights on demolishing the patriarchy itself with her feature directorial debut, shredding a whole lot of stereotypes in her wake.
It’s anchored by a love story, in this case the bond between two Pakistani Muslim Londoners, the teenage Ria (Priya Kansara) and her older sister Lena (Ritu Arya), who is floundering and depressed after dropping out of art school. The latter’s spiraling would make Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn applaud, as her hunger was mostly reserved for one perfect sandwich. But Lena effortlessly outdoes her, since her cravings have her chowing down on an entire chicken.
Ria is the one who drags her out of bed by persuading Lena to film her latest attempts at becoming a stuntwoman, a dream Ria seeks to fulfill much to her parents’ dismay. Their mom and dad cheer up, though, when Lena catches the eye of their community’s heartthrob, Salim Shah (Akshay Khanna), and are downright ecstatic when she’s engaged after a whirlwind courtship. Only Ria is aghast and determined to sabotage the couple’s upcoming nuptials.
What unfolds next is part heist and part tribute to Bollywood and kung fu movies, with a third-act twist that will no doubt prove polarizing. But those willing to embrace it will enjoy the darkly feminine spin on Get Out, even if it can occasionally lean a bit too much on condemning some of the popular culture aimed at women. But the action is also nonstop, with breathtaking costumes that make the most of the sequences, and pitch-perfect comedy bolstered by tight-knit girl squads who are equally likely to hiss at haters and have your back during your crime caper. It’s a delightfully kick-ass ode to sisterhood, whether familial or found. PG-13, 103 min.