By: Shannon Page
Sibling filmmakers Ravi and Geeta Patel’s Meet the Patels is a feel-good documentary/romantic comedy hybrid that achieves everything that it sets out to do. The film, which began as a home video of a trip that the Patel family took to India, follows Ravi’s journey to find the woman of his dreams while navigating the expectations of his Indian-American family as well as his own connection to his cultural and heritage. It is simultaneously a sweet, self-aware film about falling in love across cultures and a thought-provoking investigation of what it means to hold onto – or let go of – traditional values after immigrating to a new country.
Combining interviews with Ravi and his parents, home-video footage, as well as amusing animated sequences and voice-over narration from Ravi, the documentary unfolds in a way that feels incredibly intimate – despite the universality of many of the central themes. The use of such varied visual styles and techniques certainly has the potential to be jarring, but the transitions are both thematically and visually seamless. Occasionally, the timeline becomes somewhat difficult to follow (the film documents roughly one year in Ravi’s life) and it would be easy for the audience to be hopelessly confused about exactly how much time has passed were it not for Ravi’s helpful voice-over commentary.
While the tone of Meet The Patels avoids ever becoming too heavy or deep, the film still manages to encourage its audience to consider how love, dating, marriage, and family function in contemporary North American society. Many of the questions that the film asks are relevant to people from a variety of different cultures and families, particularly twenty-somethings who face the challenge of dating in an increasingly digital world. If nothing else, Meet The Patels is a sweet and heartfelt film. Its documentary format makes for a refreshing break from the usual romantic comedies we’re now used to.
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Shannon Page: @ShannonEvePage