I’ll Meet You There, a story about a Pakistani Chicago policeman, his daughter and immigrant father, strives to tell a layered immigrant story of family, tradition, and modernity. While it tries to carry itself on sheer will, it ultimately fails to rise above melodrama and is hindered by bad acting and uneven audio mixing.
Our protagonists are Chicago policeman Majeed (Faran Tahir), a single father striving to embody the American ideal; his daughter, Dua (Nikita Tewani), a typical American teenager following in her late mother’s footsteps as a dancer; and an unexpected visitor from Pakistan, Majeed’s father Baba (Muhammad Qavi Khan), representing a world and conservative Muslim beliefs they’ve left behind.
When we meet the family, Dua is a bit of a wild child, obsessed with learning all she can about her mother and reveling in dancing just like her. As a Pakistani immigrant, her father Majeed does all he can to work hard and fit in with other Chicago policemen, well aware of the stigmas many automatically apply to him. He complies when a couple of FBI agents ask him to work undercover to integrate himself into a mosque suspected of money-laundering. Though not an avid attendee, he goes along with the plan, further complicated when his father, Baba, becomes heavily involved with the mosque during his visit. Desperate to feel like a part of the family, Dua grows increasingly closer to Baba, who causes her to question her love of dancing, seen as inappropriate to his faith, and her mother’s mysterious and unexplained death.
In trying to cover so much ground, the film has too much going on to say anything with real clarity. In trying to tackle both Majeed and his daughter’s issues, it winds a tale with too many twists and questions and doesn’t sit enough with any of the issues to create a satisfying or thoughtful resolution. Tahir anchors the film as silent and serious Majeed, lending it a much-needed pathos, but many of the other actors turn in lacking performances that lean melodrama rather than understated drama. Audio problems made cheesy music overpower quiet dialogue and conversations recorded on busy streets created fuzzy background noise. While Khan makes for a convincing grandfather, his role would have been more powerful had they elected to include subtitles for his lines in English.
I’ll Meet You There attempts a moving and nuanced immigrant story but relies too heavily on melodrama and predictable storylines to pull it off. While certainly a worthwhile tale to see on screen, it would have been more effective if it had narrowed its focus even further.
*This film was scheduled to screen at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival, which was canceled amid COVID-19 concerns.