Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 88
    It has been said that all modern Russian literature came out of Gogol’s “Overcoat.” In the same way, all of us came out of the overcoat of this same immigrant experience.
  2. 88
    The acting is uniformly excellent. For the roles of Ashoke and Ashima, Nair has employed prolific Bollywood stars Tabu and Irfan Khan, both of whom give performances of great range and empathy.
  3. Moving and marvelous new cross-cultural family saga.
  4. 88
    Overall, this gorgeously designed and photographed movie artfully depicts the immigrant experience in ways that transcend its setting, melding Hollywood and Bollywood storytelling techniques to weave a tale a large audience will relate to.
  5. 75
    This is a generational family saga everyone can relate to, and Nair gives it her special magic.
  6. The Namesake is suffused with radiant grace, and manages to be old-fashioned yet immediate, epic and intimate.
  7. The Namesake, adapted from Jhumpa Lahiri’s popular novel, conveys a palpable sense of people as living, breathing creatures who are far more complex than their words might indicate.
  8. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The Namesake has a deep, alluvial poetry to it, like a mighty river reaching the sea. It's mysterious and ordinary, insightful and banal, rambling and precise, and it is altogether unexpected.
  9. This immensely pleasurable film is anything but dry. It's a saga of the immigrant experience that captures the snap, crackle and pop of American life, along with the pounding pulse, emotional reticence, volcanic colors and cherished rituals of Indian culture.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    An engaging and moving film with a universal story about the bonds of family as told through two generations of a Bengali family.
  11. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    A funny and touching adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri's novel about two generations of Bengali-Americans attempting to reconcile the world of their collective past with that of their individual futures.
  12. It's a tearjerker, sometimes, and sweetly funny at other moments. It's near perfect.
  13. Although we miss some of the finer details that made Jhumpa Lahiri's 2003 book so meaningful, we're moved by the movie's themes of cultural displacement and the power of chance.
  14. 80
    After trying her hand at Thackeray with "Vanity Fair," director Mira Nair has found a literary property much closer to her heart: Jhumpa Lahiri's best-selling novel about a Bengali couple and their children trying to find their place in American culture.
  15. The Namesake takes in a lot of territory, and at times is too diffuse, too attenuated. But the actors are so expressive that they provide their own continuity. They transport us to a realm of pure feeling.
  16. Brims with intelligence, compassion and sensuous delight in the textures, sights and sounds of life--all the way from the Taj Mahal to Pearl Jam.
  17. 75
    Making you feel the presence of absences - of the distant and the departed, of dreams that never quite come true - is the key thing that this uneven film gets exactly right.
  18. 70
    In her adaptation of The Namesake, Mira Nair hits it right at least half the time. In places, the movie feels aimless and misshapen; it doesn't have the gentle but focused energy of Lahiri's book. And sometimes Nair goes overboard in heightening the cultural contrasts -- the inevitable incongruities between East and West -- that Lahiri navigates so subtly.
  19. It is hard to imagine a better cast or production values so the film should find audiences among sophisticated urban adults.
  20. 75
    It's well-acted and filled with striking compositions, but director Mira Nair has trouble with a different kind of balance.
  21. 88
    A rarity, a film that preserves the depth and integrity of its source while bringing the story to life in an indelible way.
  22. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    There are times when you wish the movie was a mini-series. This is meant both as a tribute, for the Ganguli family is so engaging you'd be happy spending much more time with them, and an acknowledgment that a tale this expansive doesn't always fit comfortably within the constraints of a feature-length frame.
  23. Nair takes mostly low-key material about a traditional Indian family raising kids in America and turns it into something sensual, funny and quietly devastating.
  24. Showing the intricate dynamics of family relationships is something Mira Nair does as well as any director working today.
  25. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    A thoroughly engaging, terrifically moving family story that's rich in beautifully observed and lovingly conveyed human detail.
  26. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    A richly compelling story of family and self-discovery.
  27. The actors are all well-cast, thoughtful and sometimes funny. Tabu was apparently not Nair's first choice, but after watching her in the role it's hard to imagine anyone else -- she's heartbreakingly good.
  28. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    This Indian immigrant family saga is a pleasant watch, but given the emotive source novel, it’s surprisingly superficial.
  29. Reviewed by: Stina Chyn
    When The Namesake ends, one feels as though one has lived with the characters instead of just watching them.
  30. Reviewed by: Toddy Burton
    Reminiscent of Jim Sheridan’s masterly "In America," The Namesake delivers such a tactile presence that it's difficult not to leave feeling as if you've just struggled through a New York winter, attended an Indian wedding, and returned from a Calcutta holiday.
  31. Reviewed by: Dennis Lim
    Despite being rooted in knotty issues of identity, Lahiri's novel forgoes didacticism in favor of vivid portraiture. Nair and her uniformly superb cast take the same tack: The characters are individuals before they are emblems.
  32. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    The Namesake carries faint echoes of the carnal physicality that makes Nair's more lightweight movies so much fun to look at--"Monsoon Wedding" was a dandy piece of froth, and "Vanity Fair" survives only on its looks--but it's a quieter, more mature work.
  33. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    It's so courteously deferential to its source that it never really comes alive as a movie...Even so, Nair has a gift for directing actors and a feeling for the immigrant milieu of the novel that make The Namesake a rich, if not completely satisfying, pleasure.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 57 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 26
  2. Negative: 2 out of 26
  1. ChetR
    Jun 16, 2008
    Nair is beginning to fulfill her promise by evolving into a major filmmaker in a very specialized niche.
  2. Nov 28, 2011
    I've never read the book, but the movie was very good. Well acted and moving. I would suggest not to watch it more than once or twice. 8/10 or 81/100.
  3. NeilB
    May 5, 2009
    Too much plot, too little time. Worthy but a bit cheesy in places