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Review: ‘For Here or to Go?’ mines comedy and drama to portray visa struggles

Amitosh Nagpal, left, and Ali Fazal in "For Here or to Go?"
Amitosh Nagpal, left, and Ali Fazal in “For Here or to Go?”
(Sean Graham / Sean Graham)

A knowing take on cultural identity and the immigrant experience, “For Here or to Go?” is a first feature that suffers from having too much on its plate.

Set against the backdrop of the 2008 recession, the dramedy starts off promisingly, as ambitious young Silicon Valley software engineer Vivek Pandit (an engaging Ali Fazal) is on the cusp of a major career boost at a healthcare start-up.

The only hitch is that his work visa is up in less than a year and few companies are willing to get caught in the bureaucratic quagmire that is the U.S. immigration process, forcing Vivek to address the harsh reality of giving up on the American dream and returning to India.

It’s readily apparent that director Rucha Humnabadkar and screenwriter Rishi S. Bhilawadikar are all too familiar with the challenges that “temporary alien workers” face on a daily basis, as well as more personal endeavors like an amusingly portrayed Bay Area Bollywood speed dating event.

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But in attempting to address its many concerns, the film’s agreeable, lightly satirical tone gives way to increasingly didactic dialogue and a stalling pace.

Thanks to its amiable cast, you’ll still root for Vivek and his buddies to succeed despite the fact that “For Here or to Go?” is ultimately neither here nor there.

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‘For Here or to Go?’

In English and Hindi with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Playing: Cinemark 18, Los Angeles

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