a comical clash of cultures tale of homosexual outing.
Charming in its own way, writer and director Ian Iqbal Rashid has tackled a serious subject with comical overtones and if anything, a rare non-stereotypical honesty, even if the end result is somewhat of a lightweight affair.
For tired of the endless gloating of her sister Dolly as she prepares for the upcoming wedding of her son Khaled in the wealthy suburbs of Toronto, mother Nuru opts to jump ship, heading instead to London in search of her son Alim. Not that this arrives as welcome news to a man who has deliberately put thousands of air miles between him and his family, so that he can openly live the gay lifestyle with boyfriend Giles. Only with Giles now reclassified as the lodger and mother Nuru determined to find her son a nice Muslim girl, what's a gay boy to do but turn to his imaginary best friend for advice. And when that takes the form of Cary Grant, who can blame him.
With high production values throughout, Rashid has crafted a touching tale of homosexual outing built upon solid clash of cultures foundations. Then again, at heart, this is a relationship drama; that between Alim and his mother, Alim and his boyfriend and notably Alim and his dream adviser Grant, with Kyle MacLachlan splendid in the part, even if the novelty value of his character will vary, I dare say, from individual to individual. It does however allow for some movie magic to shine, as the glitz 'n' glam of the film industry nicely counter Jimi Mistry's down-to-earth portrayal of a Pakistani set photographer at odds with his cultural background.
Thankfully Mistry is aided by a fine supporting cast, with Suleka Mathew as the glamorous mother of the piece and Kristen Holden-Ried as boyfriend Giles delivering spirited performances throughout, ones that hit the emotional core of the film as mother Nuru is charmed off her feet by out to his family Giles, only to flee from the scene in shock when the true nature of his relationship with her son dawns. That the end result emerges free from sexual and cultural caricature is refreshing, with Rashid clearly relishing in paying tribute to the classic romantic comedy genre that Grant, amongst others, was famous for.
Yet where this work excels is in its depiction of the differences between Western and Asian cultures and in particular the stark contrast between a society that allows individual yearnings to flourish against one in which religious, cultural and duty to marry family values all too often triumph over personal sexual freedom. For it is here that this feature hits out when you least expect, forcing you to focus on its underlying theme, namely that being gay and Muslim is not an oxymoron. That for many it seemingly is, makes this a heartfelt message in a bottle piece, one that is laced with scenes of gay affection and sexual hypocrisy. Need more be said?
screened as part of The Times BFI 47th London Film Festival 2004
starring: Jimi Mistry / Alim, Kyle MacLachlan / Spirit of Cary Grant, Suleka Mathew / Mother Nuru,
Kristen Holden-Ried / Giles, Veena Sood / Dolly, Brian George / Hassan, Liisa Repo-Martell /
Delia, Raoul Bhaneja / Khaled and Dean McDermott as Alisdair Keith.