Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Fond Kiss

Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Paki-Celtic Romance Ruffles Feathers in Cross-Cultural Melodrama

Rarely does a movie deal with the theme of interracial romance in as sophisticated a fashion as A Fond Kiss, the latest offering from Ken Loach, the daring director of such searing slices of latter-day life in Scotland as Sweet Sixteen and My Name Is Joe. Set in Glasgow, this super-realistic melodrama examines the fallout visited upon a second-generation Pakistan-Brit and his independent-minded Irish lover when they dare to date despite the controversy certain to ensue.
Casim (Atta Yaqub) is a DJ who dreams of opening up his own club tol cater to a diverse clientele. But to do so he must first break free from the Old-World expectations of his tight-knit, extended family. Roisin (Eva Birthistle), meanwhile, teaches music at a conservative Catholic school attended by Casim's little sister, Tahara (Shabana Bakhsh). Her boss is a stodgy parish priest (Gerard Kelly) who expects his staff to set a proper example for their impressionable young students.
Casim and Roisin’s paths cross, they strike up a casual conversation which leads to a friendship that blossoms into romance. They go to extremes to hide the affair, knowing the heat they will take for dating openly.
To decompress, they escape to Spain for a private, passionate getaway. But the situation only boils over after Casim owns up to his impending arranged marriage to a cousin recently summoned to the United Kingdom. An understandably enraged Roisin wants know whether the liar ever even loved her or if he just thinks of her as a cheap tart.
Upon their return, all hell breaks loose when the couple is outed. Roisin loses her job, Casim’s fiancee' arrives and his humiliated parents feel the family has been disgraced by the scandal. The question becomes whether the emasculated Casim will cave-in to the demands of the clan or summon the strength to assimilate and date anyone he wants.
Loach coaxes the most out a rough-edged cast comprised mostly of amateurs, once again managing to produce a compelling, emotionally-charged melodrama filled with crisply-defined characters. An example of cinema verite at its very best.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for pervasive profanity, female frontal nudity and graphic sexuality.
(In English and Punjabi with subtitles)
Running time: 103 minutes
Distributor: Castle Hill Productions

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