She’s restless, anxious, even angry at times, because 28-year-old Londoner Arifa just doesn’t have the life she wants. In this UK indie character drama, Shermin Hassan’s protagonist is toiling in a self-perpetuating cycle: understandably eager to move away from her Pakistani parents, yet the longer the relationship search goes on, the likelier she is to say the wrong things to prospective suitors and leave herself stuck on the shelf. It’s a situation which will doubtless strike a chord with viewers, yet while there’s so much that’s relatable about the film, first-time writer-director Sadia Saeed also turns out to be her own worst enemy. A sympathetic lead is one thing, but without a fully developed story and a convincing supporting cast, it falls somewhat short overall.
We can all be sympathetic, for instance, towards Arifa’s tendency to put her foot in it, but the men she chooses fall so obviously into the ‘avoid’ category, it’s exasperating to see her even bothering with them. Moreover, while debutant Hassan absolutely nails her part, from mouthy volatility to tearful vulnerability, both Rez Kempton (her slightly creepy boss) and Luca Pusceddu (a mysterious Italian ‘professional gamer’) deliver wooden, unconvincing turns in the love interest department. The movie just spends too much time stalling, and even though there are certainly valid insights into the way Asian women constantly feel judged by their background, there’s a decided lack of comic or dramatic oomph in the telling. A moderately promising directorial calling card, no more, no less.