Youyoung Lee
November 23, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

American-born Gogol (a very sober Penn) flounders in old-world waters: His romance with a WASP girlfriend (Jacinda Barrett) dismays his parents, who want their son to embrace his Calcutta homeland and an Indian bride. Director Mira Nair’s (Monsoon Wedding) adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s bestselling novel, The Namesake, so lovingly portrays Gogol’s journey, as he grapples with the universal themes of identity and heritage, that it’s easy to forgive the awkward jumps in time and plot. EXTRAS Nair lectures a Columbia University film class on the movie biz. B+

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