Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nina's Heavenly Delights

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Latent Lesbians Bend It Like Emeril in Formulaic Female Empowerment Flick

When Prodigal Daughter Nina Shah (Shelley Conn) returns to Glasgow for the first time in three years to attend her estranged father’s (Raad Rawi) funeral, it’s apparent that the Westernized young woman has something to hide. But between their mourning and handling the arrangements, her mother (Veena Sood) and siblings are too preoccupied to take any hints from the fact that she’s hanging out with a flamboyant drag queen (Ronny Jhutti).
Plus, they’re trying to save the jewel in their East Indian-Scottish clan’s crown, a famous curry house called “The New Taj.” Seems that the late family patriarch had a gambling problem which left half the restaurant in the hands of Lisa (Laura Fraser), the attractive blonde now dating Kary (Atta Yaqub), Nina’s brother.
When the owner (Art Malik) of a rival eatery expresses an interest in buying the Taj, most of the Shahs are prepared to sell. But not Nina, whose jilted former fiancĂ© (Raji James) is the man’s son and head chef. What nobody suspects is that she’s really a lesbian and would rather lock lips and loins with Lisa than hand the place over to her ex.
So, Nina concocts the perfect plan to save the Taj, namely, to enter and win the annual “Best of the West” cook-off competition. Fortunately, Lisa agrees, and the two new business partners proceed to flirt coyly with each other while whipping up recipes for the big showdown. Don’t be misled by the intriguing premise of Nina's Heavenly Delights, for as promising as it might sound, the movie, unfortunately, is too artlessly executed to measure up to its considerable potential.
Between its plodding pace and predictable plot developments, the production repeatedly fritters away opportunities to address meaningfully any of the assorted themes it dances around, ranging from homosexuality to family to tolerance to assimilation to male chauvinism to sexual preference. You know a cross-cultural, gender-bending dramedy has issues, when its most memorable moment is a blasphemous, bouncy Bollywood musical finale featuring a female impersonator.

Fair (1.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality.
Running time: 95 minutes
Studio: Regent Releasing

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