Priya Kansara appears in Polite Society by Nida Manzoor, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by Parisa Taghizadeh.

SXSW23: ‘Polite Society’ Review: Feminist Action Thriller With Laughs and Heart

Polite Society continues its epic run and joined the 2023 SXSW Film and TV Festival after its premiere at Sundance. It’s a testament to how much of an impact this movie has already had that SXSW had to have this as part of its lineup. This action thriller comes in with a lot of heart and maybe even more laughs. It is a tribute to the power of sisterhood and the perils of men who are far too close to their mothers. 

Polite Society tells the story of Ria (Priya Kansara) an aspiring stunt artist. Her sister, Lena (Ritu Arya), an artist, becomes entangled with a charismatic man with a dark secret and bizarre relationship with his mother. On Lena‘s wedding day, with the help of her friends, Ria must step in to save the day and pull off an epic wedding heist.

At its core, Polite Society is about the unique relationship that sisters everywhere have always had. Ria and Lena are the perfect illustrations of the depth of sisterly love. They might beat the crap out of each other. They might yell and swear and scream. At the end of the day, they only want what’s best for each other, even after beating each other to a pulp. These two embody what sisters mean to one another. 

The fact that the villains of the story are sons and mothers who remain obsessed with each other well into adulthood is a timely and topical commentary. This is such a common dynamic that plays out in real life. The casual cruelty with which this mother and son treat women is as alarming as it is authentic. These two are too true to life in their entitlement. This dehumanization makes it much easier to despise these two. 

At the end of the day, Polite Society is just fun. The humour is never overplayed, and it never distracts from the characters or the story. The jokes land so effectively; the danger is that you might just miss the best ones. Ria’s loveable group of misfits carry so much of the unbridled joy and chaos that characterize the teen years. The fact that the humour is grounded in such relatable characters makes it so much easier to appreciate. 

Polite Society has the potential to be one of the best movies being released this year. It’s a sweet story about how the love of family can always overcome toxic relationships. Nida Manzoor continues to tell endearing stories about girls going on journeys of self-discovery. This is a topical and timeless story of self-love and self-discovery. At its core, this movie is a tribute to the power of sisterhood and a reminder of how much stronger sisters are together. 

Polite Society premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

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