From David Lynch to David Cronenberg and Jordan Peele, some Hollywood directors have become well known for thinking outside the box. They give movie audiences something unique to watch. They leave their stories open to interpretation. And they embellish facts so people can leave the theatre scratching their heads. Audiences, then, discuss what they’ve seen with their friends and family to figure things out. Try as he might however, director Anoop Rangi is no Lynch or Peele. One can argue that his new film Arranged Marriage doesn’t try to live up to the standards of a Cronenberg film. It tries to be something that makes you think. But fails miserably in the attempt, leaving nothing but a mess of a movie you wish you hadn’t watched in the first place.
Kamali (Megha Sandhu) is a college student who is called home from school. This happens shortly after one of her study partners is mysteriously murdered. The reason for her summons is unclear, but when she arrives she discovers it’s an ambush. Her parents have promised her to the son of another family. Kamali’s boyfriend Clive (Jordan Williams) takes matters into his own hands. And he decides to discuss the matter of her arranged marriage with her family. But instead of conversing with him, they beat him up and send him to the hospital. Kamali quickly discovers that she doesn’t have a lot of choices. She either follows the wishes of her family, or all the people she is closest to in her life will pay the price for her disobedience.
The first problem with Arranged Marriage is that it can’t decide what genre it is. The movie starts with a very cool horror-like scene, which could have made it a much better film if it decided to continue down that path. It quickly turns into a bizarre comedy. Here, the man Kamali is to marry wears a paper bag over his head before he reveals his identity. Later on, when Clive and Kamali are on the run it feels like a action/horror film.
Even the characters can’t decide what they want to be. For instance Clive starts out a loving, doting boyfriend who will do anything to be with the love of his life. But he changes into a jackass who uses racial slurs and insults his girlfriend’s name. It doesn’t even make a lot of sense why he changes so drastically. Yes, he’s scared. But it wouldn’t it make more sense, more realistic sense, that he’d just run away and leave her behind?
It’s clear that Rangi meant Arranged Marriage to be an over-the-top embellishment of arranged marriages. But it doesn’t work. The characters are weak, the plot is thin, and it feels like a B-movie production that lost its way hours before it started filming.