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|Touch of Pink|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir-scr Ian Iqbal Rashid|
with Jimi Mistry, Kyle MacLachlan, Kristen Holden-Reid, Suleka Mathew, Veena Sood, Liisa Repo-Martell, Raoul Bhaneja, Brian George, Andrew Gillies, Malika Mendez
release US 16.Jul.04,
UK 14.Feb.08 dvd
People will talk: Mistry, Mathew and Holden-Reid
First-time director Rashid struggles a bit with tone and pacing in this semi-autobiographical romantic comedy, but his characters are so vivid and the romance so sweet that we forgive him. The film warmly and amusingly highlights cultural family issues without poking big fat fun at them.
Alim (Mistry) is a young professional who lives in London with his English boyfriend Giles (Holden-Reid). Alim's Pakistani family is still in Toronto, where he grew up, and while preparing for the wedding of his cousin (Bhaneja), Alim's mother (Mathew) gets tired of her sister's (Sood) gloating and flies to London to see her son. A fan of classic movies, Alim has always taken the advice of his imaginary friend Cary Grant (MacLachlan); but when Cary urges Alim to hide his sexuality from his mother, we know trouble is brewing.
The film's structure is somewhat farcical and more than a little contrived, but Rashid keeps it grounded through realistic characters who are all stubborn and complex--likable and annoying at the same time. If the characters weren't so believable, the film would feel like silly fluff. But there are surprisingly serious emotional scenes throughout the film that continually catch us off guard. And it's extremely well-played by the cast.
After goofy roles in films like The Guru and Ella Enchanted, Mistry gets his best role to date here. Alim is an intriguing and realistic young man--both confident and conflicted. And while we perhaps can't identify with his reliance on movie magic, we certainly can feel for him as he struggles to balance his life. Meanwhile, Mathew is superb as his drama queen mother--hilariously funny and also deeply intriguing the more we get to know her.
The film seems to lurch along unevenly at times, but Rashid's script is full of astute humour and memorable lines of dialog that keep us laughing ("The plastic is still on the furniture because it keeps the evil fresh"), even when the story gets rather serious. Some of the film's themes are rather heavy-handed, but underneath the strong be-yourself moralising is a nicely emotional message about the bonds of family and the realities of high expectations.
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