Race Challenged

Issue section: 

Review of 'Love + Hate', director: Dominic Savage

Naseema, a young Muslim woman, gets ready for her first day at work. She says goodbye to her mum and dad, her brother and sister, and eagerly begins her day in this new, unusual world. Little does she suspect that there will be someone at her new workplace who will not be so pleased to see her walking through the door.

Adam, a young white man, initially can't believe it when he sees Naseema working at the decorating shop, and even tells his boss to sack her. And he certainly cannot believe it when he finds himself falling for her. All his mates can't stand the fact that there are white men in the world who would "shag a Paki", and when one of the group says that he would they violently turn on him.

Racism isn't Naseema's only experience in her new job. She is immediately befriended by Michelle, who is grateful for a woman her own age to hang out with. Michelle's dad works with Naseema's brother Yousef. He really makes every effort to overcome the stereotypes in his mind and be nice to Yousef because he seems to be a decent bloke.

The idea that someone like Adam, who was clearly quite comfortable with his racist friends, family and his own racist beliefs, could even begin to find someone like Naseema attractive is very interesting. It says to me that people's ideas can change quite easily when challenged, which shows how important it is to challenge them. He begins to think differently about his ideas and the things that his mum and brother have told him.

The lives of young working class people from different communities are portrayed very well. Director Dominic Savage shows that they may come from different backgrounds, but ultimately all the parents want is what is best for their children, and that the children just want to settle down and have families. There's not as much difference between them as there first appeared to be.

However, there is one disappointment about the film. The Muslim family are portrayed as incredibly strict and repressive in their treatment of Naseema - almost harsher and more racist than the white family. Savage seems to have little or no understanding of the idea that sometimes the way the oppressed behave is a direct reaction to the racism that they face.

So when Naseema's dad, a taxi driver, is nearly beaten to death by Adam's brother, the violent reaction of some Muslim boys, including Yousef, is simply seen as thuggish, uncontrolled, almost barbaric behaviour, without really adversely commenting on the thuggery of the racists.

Also the idea that the families could be reconciled with Adam and Naseema's love for each other is never explored. It is always assumed that a Muslim family would never accept a white person into the family because deep down, they are just as intolerant as the white family, if not more so. It all seems incredibly hopeless. The only way to resolve this problem is either through running away or violence.

Overall it is a good film, with an interesting subject matter, especially today. Many people in Britain at the moment seem to have very set ideas about Muslims, and it's great to see a film which reflects that while simultaneously challenging it.