Farah Goes Bang: Tribeca Review

Meera Menon's sexually and politically charged road movie depicts three young women stumping for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.

Familiar road movie tropes are re-energized with a gender switch and infusion of politics in Farah Goes Bang, director Meera Meno’s loosely entertaining debut feature receiving its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. This tale about a trio of multi-cultural, twenty-something women traveling cross-country to stump for John Kerry’s ill-fated 2004 presidential campaign occasionally succumbs to juvenilia—as with its winking title, for starters—but it features many evocative moments along the way.

Best friends Farah, Roopa and K.J.--of Persian, Indian and American heritage respectively—are assigned the task of driving to Ohio to canvass door-to-door for their candidate in that all-important swing state. Despite being warned by their handler to avoid the hopelessly red states, they can’t resist the opportunity to try and change a few minds along the way.

That their task will be a difficult one is signaled by their very first stop, in which they encounter a woman who regales them with a musical ode to George W. Bush. An encounter with a redneck who advises them to “tell your friend to friend to go back to whatever Taliban camp she came from” is similarly dispiriting.

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These being healthy young women, they also have sex on their minds, as evidenced by the industrial-sized box of condoms they bring along. In particular, Farah is hoping to lose her virginity along the way, a goal that her friends are eagerly encouraging.

Director Menon, who co-wrote the screenplay with Laura Goode, delivers a friskily realistic portrait of her three protagonists, who playfully banter about sex, grooming (“I look like Magnum, P.I., complains a horrified Roopa upon scrutinizing her facial hair) and men, including a debate about whether they’re rather sleep with Kerry or John Edwards.

Along the way, they interact with a gallery of disparate types, including a drag queen who says of Bush that “he’s the only weapon of mass destruction,” and, in a quietly moving scene, a Korean War veteran who graciously invites Farah to have a beer and make her case.

The storyline has its predictable moments, such as its conclusion in which—spoiler alert--Farah enjoys a one-night stand, accompanied by a background of exploding fireworks, no less, with a hunky young man who teaches her to shoot a gun.

Ultimately, however, the film’s warm-hearted treatment of its central characters and incisive portrait of a politically divided America provide ample compensation, as do the engaging performances by Nikohl Boosheri, Kiran Deol and Kandis Erickson.

(Tribeca Film Festival)

Production: Farah Goes Bang, LLC

Cast: Nikohl Boosheri, Kandis Erickson, Kiran Deol, Michael Steger, Samrat Chakrabarti, Lyman Ward

Director: Meera Menon

Screenwriters: Laura Goode, Meera Menon

Producers: Danielle Firozzi, Liz Singh, Erica Fishman

Executive producer: Laura Goode

Director of photography: Paul Gleeson

Editor: Kate Hickey

Production designer: Ashley Margo

Costume designer: Bri Xandrick

Composers: Samuel Jones, Alexis Marsh

Not rated, 90 min.

 

 

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