“Outsourced,” in which a Seattle call center manager named Todd (Josh Hamilton) is fired and then dispatched to India as a consultant to train his own replacement, is a wonderful surprise.
At first it threatens to be just another fish-out-of-water story. The film’s director, John Jeffcoat, and his co-writer, George Wing, hit expected marks, from the moment when a street urchin swipes the hero’s cellphone to the bit where Todd learns why Indians don’t eat with their left hand to the scene where Todd realizes that his sharpest employee, an outspoken young woman named Asha (Ayesha Dharker), is gorgeous and has a crush on him.
Gratifyingly, though, the filmmakers treat Todd’s story as a springboard for a smart look at the effect of cultural difference on work, friendship and love, and the global economy’s impact on national and personal identity.
Todd, being American, has no sense of himself as an American. He has an allergic reaction to Indian culture (embodied by the intestinal distress he suffers after eating local food). He is also taken aback by Indians’ emphasis on family ties and social obligations, and they in turn are politely aghast at Todd’s disconnection from his own relatives.
Todd’s trainee, the polite, 40-ish Puro (Asif Basra), lives with his parents and is surprised that Todd lives alone and rarely visits his own mother. He insists that Todd forgo his prearranged hotel room and stay at his home, where his mom cooks up a storm and grills Todd on why he isn’t married yet.
Director Tony Kaye’s (AMERICAN HISTORY X) long-awaited film DETACHMENT stars Academy Award® winner Adrien Brody as Henry Barthes, a substitute teacher who conveniently avoids any emotional connections by never staying anywhere long enough to form a bond with either his students or colleagues. A lost soul grappling with a troubled past, Henry finds himself at a public school where an apathetic student body has created a frustrated, burned-out administration. Inadvertently becoming a role model to his students, while also bonding with a runaway teen who is just as lost as he is, Henry finds that he’s not alone in a life and death struggle to find beauty in a seemingly vicious and loveless world. Kaye has molded a contemporary vision of people who become increasingly distant from others while still feeling the need to connect. DETACHMENT features a stellar ensemble cast, including Academy Award® winner Marcia Gay Harden, Christina Hendricks, William Petersen, Bryan Cranston, Tim Blake Nelson, Lucy Liu, Blythe Danner, James Caan, and newcomers Sami Gayle and Betty Kaye.