Man Push Cart

"Very Good"

Man Push Cart Review


To date, the services of the food carts that litter the corners of New York City have never been of use to yours truly. The world of the people who runs these small huts, often Indian, Israeli or Mexican, is often a dystopia of non-existence. They aren't recognized as people but simply as peddlers of the morning coffee and bagel and the middle-of-walking snack attack and then as a faded memory. But then someone recognizes them, and then it's a whole other world.

Ahmad (Ahmad Razvi) pours cups of piping hot coffee, spreads cheap cream cheese on bagels and hangs dangling teabags in hot water for dozens of people each morning and he's fine with it. He comes home to the closet he calls an apartment, writes, and takes care of a small kitten. It's his life; it's not big but he likes it. That is until Mohammad (Charles Daniel Sandoval) recognizes him. Back in Pakistan, Ahmad's homeland, Ahmad was a famed rock star, like Bono with longer hair. Mohammad remembers this and feels it's his duty to bring him back into the limelight. At the same time, Ahmad begins to fall for Noemi (Leticia Dolera), a Spanish girl who operates a magazine and candy shack a few blocks away. The romance is tentative, but Ahmad's hesitant climb to get back to where he was hits snags, major ones.

First-time director Ramin Bahrani has set up an introspective, refreshingly unpretentious look at the struggle of immigrants, both spiritually and economically. Back in Pakistan, Ahmad could have done anything he wanted but he wanted to come to America and became a nobody. His food cart is a sort of temple, where he feels safe in the daily routine of serving the businesspeople that walk up and down Midtown. This job acts as a sort of ritual for him (prayer, perhaps?) that gives him comfort when he returns to his small apartment. Mohammad is a reformed Middle Eastern man: He does what he wants and is rich enough to where he doesn't really have to worry about consequences. His offer to help out Ahmad is construed more as an offer to make him American and to quit his ritual. Ostensibly, he's asking him to give up his Middle Eastern roots.

There are chinks in the armor. The act of simply being in his food cart and reveling in the slow routine isn't explored quite to its fullest extent. One could blame this on the romance subplot, but the relationship between Ahmad and Noemi is done with such artful vacillation that one couldn't have many qualms with it. The kiss that Ahmad and Noemi share is as passionate a kiss as one will likely see in a film not rated NC-17 this year. Perhaps it's the simple fact that even a moment is diverted from Ahmad and his search for spiritual solemnity. There's something missing from the film's transcendental reach, but that doesn't delude the fact that Bahrani is a major talent and his film should garner due attention. Maybe a bagel and coffee wouldn't hurt tomorrow morning.

Now start pushing.



Man Push Cart

Facts and Figures

Run time: 87 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 10th May 2006

Distributed by: Films Philos

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 42 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Pradip Ghosh, Bedford T. Bentley

Starring: Leticia Dolera as Noemi, Charles Daniel Sandoval as Mohammad, Ali Reza as Manish, Farooq 'Duke' Muhammad as Duke, Panicker Upendran as Noori, Ahmad Razvi as Ahmad

Also starring:

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