Americanish is a story about the experiences of three women making their way professionally — and romantically — in 21st-century America. Two sisters, Sam (Aizzah Fatima) and Maryam (Salena Qureshi), are joined by their Pakistani cousin, Ameera (Shenaz Treasury), who has been sent to stay with them and find a husband. They must contend with male-dominated workplaces, racist clients, the tribulations of dating and the inherent conflicts that happen within cross-generational immigrant households.
All three main characters get their due, with individual plots that explore different views of love and professional success. Each story, of course, ends with the women finding their paths and following them, which is what the genre promises. There are few surprises, really. It’s solidly grounded in old world-versus-new world material. All three lead actresses are charming and share the proper chemistry with the men with whom they’re destined to fall in or out of love.
Really, that’s what Americanish boils down to — an updated take on classic romantic-comedy, women-centric storytelling that works because the women involved do such a great job creating characters that stick out from the mold. That’s thanks to director Iman Zawahry, an American-Muslim director who employed a predominantly female crew to make the film. When Americanish speaks about the experiences of its three leads, it speaks with the voices of the women who worked to tell the story. It feels authentic, which lends the larger dramatic moments more power. When a certain character overcomes her prejudices or when another decides what she wants out of life even if it means forgoing love for a bit, these feel like real situations played with empathy rather than melodrama or judgment.
Americanish is a feel-good movie that also tackles issues facing women today and speaks to real-life experiences. Sometimes being considerate, sweet and genuine is all a film really needs to convey its message.
Americanish is available as part of the Heartland Film Festival’s online offerings from Oct. 7 to Oct. 17.
In-person screenings will be held at 3:15 p.m. EDT on Friday, Oct. 8, at the Kan-Kan Cinema and Brasserie and at 7:45 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 16, at Living Room Theaters.