Nida Manzoor’s ‘Polite Society’ Brilliantly Honors Sisterhood

Polite Society UK poster, featuring Lena and Ria.
©Focus Features

Nida Manzoor’s Polite Society is a thrilling triumph in every way a film should be. It’s thought-provoking, hilarious, and action-packed, with astounding pacing. It’s also an impressive feat in dynamics as it crafts a careful narrative around sisterhoods and why trust should be the anchoring presence of every relationship. 

While it demonstrates an intricate form of trust that no one else could tarnish, the film acts as an unstoppable love letter to dreams and who people can become. It’s thoroughly impressive how Nida Manzoor’s Polite Society weaves its unique plot with a simple yet evocative message about the strengths uncovered in sisterhood. Simultaneously, the film investigates belief as a fortifying bridge toward chasing one’s dreams.

Note from Marvelous Geeks’ Team: With the ongoing WGA strike, it’s imperative that we state we stand in solidarity with all writers asking for better wages and the respect they deserve in this industry. No story comes to fruition without the idea born and nurtured inside a writer’s head. Writers are the beating hearts of everything we love — we stand with and for them. 

Lena and Ria’s Belief Is an Anchor in Nida Manzoor’s Polite Society

Lena and Ria filming a video in Nida Manzoor's Polite Society.
©Focus Features

Marriage is a brilliant thing that should unite families instead of dividing them. When in love, people shouldn’t abandon those closest to them, but their contentment should act as an anchor to then strengthen other relationships simultaneously. This reluctance to spend more time with her sister is the first real sign that shows why Lena (Ritu Arya) isn’t in a relationship fulfilling her. Additionally, seeing how well Ria (Priya Kansara) knows her sister and how hard she roots for her future as an artist is another sign that effectively exhibits how well the sisters know each other. This detail solidifies their bond as a trustworthy one right from the start because viewers see that they aren’t hiding anything from each other.

Blood doesn’t always equate to trust in the fictional or the real world. People aren’t always close to their siblings or families, but that’s not the story Nida Manzoor’s Polite Society tells—this story is about sisters who choose to be best friends. And because of this, the rest of the plot orbits around their relationships, placing their bond at the center of the narrative.

While Lena and Ria might be going through distinctive things and different places in life, their rapport gives them a safe space to confide in each other. This fact exhibits the trust between them, allowing us to see that they’re each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Ria believes in Lena’s art more than she believes in her future skills as a stunt actor, while Lena believes in Ria’s future more than her own. This belief in one another bolsters every scene they’re in together, and it makes the ending feel that much more earned.

Lena and Ria preparing to fight at Lena's wedding in Polite Society.
©Focus Features

As director and screenwriter, Manzoor ensures that every beat of the film permits the sisters to encircle each other—even when they’re apart, they’re together in some way. Whether it’s Ria consistently plotting how to save her sister or Lena bringing the fight of her life in those final few moments, the cinematography places the focus on them through an intricate lens that’s both raw and dramatized. The plot might be obscure and farcical at times, but the film never fumbles in the execution because every moment of this fight against ideals feels authentic.

Ultimately, the very love the sisters share for each other makes the film feel raw and transparent. Belief carries people and works wonders—it’s why Ria momentarily gives up on her dream of being a stunt actor because she loses her greatest supporter. And when Lena isolates herself from Ria because of the manipulation she’s under, she loses faith in the idea that her art is great. Though both sisters run into issues with their crafts at some point, losing the other’s belief becomes the real catalyst for giving up. It’s where they begin to lose themselves.

Nida Manzoor’s Polite Society utilizes moments of vulnerability and unyielding adoration between sisters to show that where there’s a strong belief, there’s transcendent work taking place. It makes a point to address that romance should never divide people while also cementing that real love should ensure people see their respective partners as they are, not a pristine version of who they should be. Like in Fleabag, Ria and Lena’s sisterhood stands as an exhibition of how people should challenge one another while allowing belief to shake up doubts and darkness effectively. It’s a story about what it means to be strong for someone when they’re at their lowest, making it an exceptionally marvelous thematic representation of dreams and beliefs, with a unique plot and an even better message.

Polite Society is now streaming exclusively on Peacock.


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