If I had to pick a genre, I’d call Arranged a culturally-sensitive yet entertaining romantic comedy-drama.Rochel and Nasira work together at an elementary school in Brooklyn. They join forces to counter negative comments about conservative Judaism and Islam from their boss and some of the students, and as their friendship grows, they discover that both of their families have decided it’s time to arrange husbands for them.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, so I’ll just mention a few things:
Their boss’s criticism of Rochel’s and Nasira’s choices seems unbelievable at times (at one point, she actually tells them they should wear sexier clothes), and some hapless suitors are exaggerated for comic effect.
Otherwise, everything in the film seems like it could really happen. Both the Jewish and Muslim families are shown in a positive light, but not surprisingly there’s some tension when the two friends visit each other’s homes. One of the women has a crisis of faith, and her friend helps her in unexpected ways. Everything is resolved in the end so fittingly that feels like it couldn’t have worked out in any other way.
Arranged is one my favorite movies; everyone I’ve recommended it to has liked it, and I’ve used it successfully in classes with a mixture of Muslim and non-Muslim students. (I don’t tend to have a lot of Jewish students in my EFL classes, so I haven’t tried it with Jewish students or a mixture of Muslim and Jewish students. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has tried this.)