Tuesday, February 12, 2008

David & Layla

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Jew Woos Muslim in Sitcom-Style Variation on Romeo and Juliet

David Fine (David Moscow), the nerdy and neurotic host of a public access TV show airing in NYC called “Sex and Happiness,” is being pressured by his parents (Peter Van Wagner and Polly Adams) to marry Abby (Callie Thorne), a rich Jewish-American Princess with a nose job, breast implants and a Porsche. Unfortunately, there’s a major attitude that comes along with that attractive package, since the self-absorbed fitness freak refuses to go on the pill or to satisfy him orally, and she also wants him to have a vasectomy.
This doesn’t sit well with David, who’s been seeing a shrink for six years to deal with erectile issues due to his fear of condoms. Therefore, it’s no surprise that he falls in lust at first sight with the exotic beauty (Shiva Rose) who turns his head on the street one day.
Layla is a recent Kurdish refugee whose entire family has been gassed by Saddam Hussein. However, she wasn’t granted permanent asylum in America and has just 45 days to marry a U.S. citizen or else face deportation. She lives with her Aunt Zina (Anna George) and Uncle Ali (Ed Chemaly) who have found her an eager suitor in Dr. Ahmed (Ali Rehza), a successful dentist originally from Kuwait. The fly in the ointment is that Layla is reluctant to tie the knot with a guy she has no feelings for.
Yet, she does sense a certain chemistry with David, the awkward stranger who has taken to stalking her around her Brooklyn neighborhood while followed by his French cameraman (Alexander Blaise). Eventually, she entertains his overtures only to discover that he’s a Jew, a potentially controversial combination when it comes time to win the approval of her Muslim relatives.
This incendiary formula sets in motion David & Layla, a cross-cultural comedy set in 1990. The story is based on the real-life experiences of David Ruby and Alwand Jaff, both of whom make cameo appearances here in minor roles. The film’s fundamental question is whether this latter-day Romeo and Juliet will follow their hearts or simply stick with the more appropriate mates.
By the time they wise up, the picture’s Pollyanna resolution suggests that the answer to the simmering tensions might be a conversion away. If that were the case, what has everybody been squabbling about over in the Middle East for eons? Hey, it’s still fun to pretend otherwise for a couple of hours.
My Big Fat Muslim Wedding!

Very Good (2.5 stars)
Rated R for language and sexuality.
Running time: 106 minutes
Studio: Newroz Films

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