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REVIEW: ‘Polite Society’ Is an Action-Packed Must-See!

5/5 stunts

Ria ready to fight in Polite Society

There are movies in this world for which going in completely unaware of what you are seeing is the best move, and that’s how I feel about Polite Society. The Nida Manzoor film takes us into the life of the Khan sisters, Ria (Priya Kansara) and Lena (Ritu Arya). They both live with their parents, as Lena dropped out of art school and Ria is still finishing up high school, but when Ria’s love for action movies and stunt work takes hold of her life, we’re transported into Ria’s very own action movie with big bads, an objective to save her family, and stunts that only an absolute badass like Ria could do.

It’s one of those movies that I just know an entire generation of young girls will cling to. Growing up, my generation would flock to British films that we discovered and share them all with each other. We had shows like Skins or movies like Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, but it hasn’t felt like a new generation has had that movie that breaks through and comes to America from Britain that just takes over teenage audiences—that is, until Polite Society.

There are just so many good things to say about this movie, but all of them would spoil your viewing experience, and it is honestly one where I think going to a theater and seeing it on the biggest screen possible is a necessity. Because it’s just that good. Manzoor’s characterization of these two sisters, who clearly love each other but struggle in their emotions towards one another, is just so beautifully real and relatable, on top of the action-packed moments.

Oh, to be a younger sister

Ria and Lena in Polite Society
(Saima Khalid/Focus Features)

While I do not have an older sister, I have older brothers, and much of Ria’s exasperation over Lena’s dismissive ideas of her abilities (both her own and Ria’s) is something that many younger siblings can relate to. You are, often, compared to your older siblings whether you like it or not. And yes, there has constantly been the conversation about how younger siblings have it “easier” because their older siblings were the first, but it isn’t easy to constantly be compared to someone else.

For Lena, she doesn’t see herself as “good enough” to be an artist. It’s a thread throughout the film that Ria believes in her while Lena doesn’t believe in herself—but Lena doesn’t, for the most part, let her own view of failure color her vision for Ria’s future and her hopes of being a stunt woman, even if Ria does tie her own ability to succeed to her sister’s artistic endeavors. It’s very much an older sibling/younger sibling dynamic.

And that’s one of the things I really love about Polite Society and connect with. Ria wants to be her own person but loves her sister and wants her to be the best version of herself, too. Not only is she putting her own success behind her sister’s, but she knows that if her sister can’t make it, then maybe she can’t, either. That’s a fear that I think a lot of younger siblings have because we look to our older siblings as guides, and it just really works in the movie.

Action star Ria Khan

Ria boxing with Lena in Polite Society
(Parisa Taghizadeh/Focus Features)

The movie has a lot of standout performances, but its heart is with Priya Kansara. Her performance as Ria is the reason this movie works so well. She has heart and power, and while she’s a badass, she also finds that balance of being a young teenage girl, both lashing out and being a good person who loves her family at the same time. Kansara and Arya’s performances are what make all the fantastical elements of the film work because you care about them and their relationship.

And it really is one of those movies that you will leave and not stop thinking about. Polite Society hits theaters on April 28 and truly DO NOT MISS THIS.

(featured image: Parisa Taghizadeh/Focus Features)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.