Monsoon Wedding's title refers to a tremendous storm that erupts during its finale, but it might just as easily refer to the many less literal clouds that gather and burst throughout the film. An Altman-esque ensemble piece directed by Mira Nair (Kama Sutra, Mississippi Masala), Monsoon gathers a cross-section of modern India and some returned emigrants for the wedding of Vasundhara Das, the daughter of a nouveau-riche Punjabi family, to Parvin Dabas, a young man from Houston whom she has never met. Complications follow, only a few directly connected to Das' ongoing affair with a handsome television host. Far more arise from the general tone of an event in which the promise of the future comes face to face with the realities of the past. Working with screenwriter Sabrina Dhawan, Nair uses her sprawling ensemble to explore the fissures revealed by the occasion. Some derive from India's struggle to reconcile tradition with modernity, but just as many could find a home at any wedding in the world. For a good portion of the film, it's a pleasure to watch Nair put a game cast through so many subplots with such gentle humor. Though opportunities for stock characters abound, few are on display; even Vijay Raaz's cell-phone-toting wedding planner quickly reveals hidden depths. After a while, however, the endeavor becomes a bit unwieldy. Nair's democratic spirit spreads the screen time across the film's many characters, but some reward the attention better than others, and too many are abandoned in a final act that gives center stage to a tone-shattering subplot. But before it breaks, the gathering storm is a sight worth seeing.
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If Jesse Armstrong wanted Jeremy Strong to jump in a river, he would have put it in the script