Growing up, I watched so many rom-coms and admired actresses like Meg Ryan, Molly Ringwald, Sandra Bullock, and so many other women playing characters looking for love. To an extent I could relate to them and their awkward/quirky personalities, but I never really saw myself. It might be part of the reason why I never thought I’d get that kind of romance in my life (I was wrong).
In these last couple of years, Hollywood has revived romantic comedies by bringing other cultures to light (i.e. Crazy, Rich, Asians & The Big Sick). Even Netflix has stepped it up with To The Boys I Loved Before and Always Be My Maybe. And just by watching these films with ethnic leads, I have felt slightly more represented. Because, as an Iranian-American, this is as close as it’s going to get. Luckily, that’s not true.
Director/writer, Sara Zandieh brings us, A Simple Wedding. The film follows Nousha (Tara Grammy), a thirty-something woman trying to avoid the pressures of marriage by her traditional Persian family. After purposely sabotaging her latest engagement, she unexpectedly locks eyes with a bisexual, artist named Alex (Christopher O’Shea) while at her friend’s protest. Their connection is instant. And after a passionate first date, the two become inseparable and eventually move in together.
However, Nousha’s family has no idea Alex exists. That is until they see him half-naked during a facetime chat. This leaves them no choice but to have Alex finally meet Nousha’s mom (Shohreh Aghdashloo), dad (Houshang Touzie), and grandma (Jaleh Modjallel). They are less than thrilled that he’s not a Persian doctor, and even more bothered by the fact that they are living together; and they can’t have their daughter living in sin. Within minutes of their first meeting, Nousha’s family has somehow gotten the couple engaged, and are planning a quick and “simple” wedding. An already complicated situation becomes more complicated when Alex’s family comes into the picture, and the two cultures collide.
The creators of My Big Fat Greek Wedding bring us a similar formula, but different ingredients. There’s insight into the Persian culture/wedding traditions, and a fair amount of focus on both set of parents. This time producer, Rita Wilson is in front of the screen as Alex’s divorced mom who can’t stand being around her ex (Peter McKenzie) and his hubby (James Eckhouse). Yet, she does like spending time around Nousha’s uncle, Saman (Maz Jobrani).
All the family members do a wonderful job portraying loving, yet at times hilariously selfish parents. O’Shea effortlessly plays a true, free spirit who loves whole-heartedly; not seeing race or religion. But at its core, the film thrives on Grammy’s endearing performance. She doesn’t play a woman who seeks love and feels lonely. She’s smart, independent, has great friends, and a good job. She’s not this loser girl that finally got a guy to notice her. She just finally noticed the guy, and wants to continue the relationship without any expectations.
I know I’m gushing quite a bit about this film, and I am sure I’m being bias given the subject matter. With the news lately, it’s nice to see Persians presented in a more positive perspective. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Everyone deserves to be represented, no matter your race, orientation, size, etc. And no matter who are, you can relate to the message this film offers about how love requires “sacrifice, understanding, and forgiveness.”
This movie has its flaws, but it’s sincere. And if you still enjoy the simple romantic comedies we used to indulge in back in the 80’s & 90’s, then allow yourself to enjoy A Simple Wedding. It’s a sweet date night flick, and an all-around fun time.
A Simple Wedding opens in theaters and On Demand February 14, 2020.
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