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Review: ‘Definition Please’ spells out a promising future for Sujata Day

January 20, 2022
January 20, 2022

With a few exceptions, like “Laggies” and “Young Adult,” the subgenre of arrested-development movies centers on listless white male protagonists. But “Definition Please” offers a new perspective on that feeling of inertia, focusing on a young Indian American woman. Sujata Day’s directorial debut adds cultural specificity in a broadly resonant story about 20-something Monica Chowdry (writer-director Day), who has never really advanced past her win of the Scribbs (yes, Scribbs) National Spelling Bee as an 8-year-old.

As an adult, Monica’s still-advanced vocabulary stumps her friends, and she has parlayed her title into tutoring would-be champs in her Pennsylvania hometown. She’s surrounded by the past — nursing her ill mother (Anna Khaja) while living in her childhood bedroom — as she tries to figure out her future. Further complicating her choices is the sudden appearance of her brother (Ritesh Rajan). He has his parallel struggles reconciling what he wants with familial and cultural expectations.

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