Ocean of Pearls

Amrit Singh (Omid Abtahi), one of the world's greatest surgeons, has developed a revolutionary new technique of liver transplants, lives at home with his parents, and sneaks kisses with his girlfriend while her parents aren't looking. His success in the wider world and the compromises it demands clash with his traditional Sikh upbringing in this admirable first feature by Sarab S. Neelam. Mishandled, this film would be very funny in a bad way, but Neelam skirts the very real perils of risibility. He makes Singh's dilemma believable and real by showing us the appeal of Toronto's close-knit Sikh community and explaining some of its history and customs. Good performances by a large cast, notably Ron Canada as a duplicitous hospital administrator, help as well but it really all comes down to Abtahi to make the piece work. His sincerity defeats our 21st-century skepticism, making Singh's unique situation seem universal.

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