Friday, February 27, 2009

I Can’t Think Straight

After a VERY LONG wait (almost 2 years since I first learn about the movie) I was able to watch it and even when has some very noticeable flaws as a movie I have to admit that I found it highly entertaining and light as feather which was a very welcome feeling after watching so many serious mainstream dramas.

This film is Shamim Sarif debut that was put on hold due to financial problems, that’s why The World Unseen –her second film- was released before and somehow you can tell that is Sarif’s debut as honestly the film does not flow swiftly and to my eyes there are some continuity problems due mainly to editing. But whatever flaws the movie has I’m sure that most of viewers are willing to and did fill the obvious story gaps with their imagination, just as I did.

Tells about beautiful Tala letting her upper class family prepare the festivities to her fourth try to the altar (previous three were cancelled by Tala at the last moment) in Amman, Jordan. But Tala is not the typical Christian Arab woman as she had the courage to open her own business in London. Then you have Leyla a quiet/shy Hindu Muslim living at her parents' home, with a boyfriend that looks more like a friend and some clues that definitely tells us that she’s in an identity discovery path. When both women meet in London sparkles arise from the very first time and thankfully the characters take their time to consummate their attraction and you have to see how everything happens in the most jet-set scenarios (female polo players??), quiet/nice places (Oxford) and upper class London and Amman mansions.

But besides the two very different personalities romance, the story also tries to tell about Palestinian anti-Semitism via Tala’s mother –a character that truly looks and behaves like Cruella de Vil- that it’s very funny even when says truly hard to hear remarks. Also deals with other sensitive issues like gays marrying straights, family tolerance –or not- to their close family homosexuality and other cultural situations that I imagine that in the novel also by Sarif surely are well developed, but in the movie the main and secondary characters really are one-dimensional and there is an oversimplification of all the characters and situations that becomes quite obvious when the first clear “story jump” happens thanks to poor editing. Sometimes is better to focus in only one issue as when trying to cover many issues is not that easy, especially with complex issues like the ones touched in this film.

Still, I believe that the movie is entertaining and with good production values if I think only in the lesbian interest genre as the end product has a style that is really light and enjoyable, which is great for a change. Perhaps the other genre movie that has a similar style is very enjoyable Nina’s Heavenly Delights, so if you enjoyed that movie probably you will enjoy this one as much.

Performances are adequate and have to admit that the performance I enjoyed the most was Tala’s mother Reema performed by Antonia Frering. I know is an awful character but she did performed it quite well. Lisa Ray (Tala) and Sheetal Sheth (Leyla) have acceptable performances and excel only when they do expressions, especially Sheth with her big-big eyes.

I really was looking forward to watch this movie as well as The World Unseen, but I also imagined that I had to read the novels. After watching both movies I know that I have to read both books to find if whatever I imagined in the many story gaps match what the written story tells.

I’m looking forward to see more movies by Shamim Sarif but I hope that her storytelling and filmmaker techniques improve as I do believe that she has very good stories that deserve excellent storytelling in the big screen.

I was reading what viewers commented in the net and most liked the movie lightness with some having not positive feelings about some sensitive issues touched “so lightly” in the movie. So, there is always the possibility that some of you readers could react not so positive to the movie; but in the dry world of lesbian interest cinema, good light stories do not come that often, so I imagine most us are glad that there are filmmakers trying to explore romance with a different scenario.

I did enjoy the lightness feeling while watching and definitively this movie is a keeper in my collection when the DVD “finally” becomes available.


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