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Touch of Pink

How to Cary On

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Two continents, two cultures, two parties, and one frantic international family disaster waiting to happen.

 

In Toronto, in an affluent home, a large family of immigrants (Pakistanis by way of Kenya) celebrates the impending nuptials of a favorite son. The music is classical, and the attire is strictly suits, saris and a touch of haute couture.

 

And in London, at a bar called Ramrod, an edgy Alim gets dragged to his own surprise anniversary party by his affable English boyfriend, Giles. The music is house, the attire is tight pants and open shirts (if at all), the guests are mostly Giles' ex-boyfriends, and Giles' hip parents want to know exactly what anniversary the boys are celebrating: their first date, the day they moved in together -- or what?

 

Can you imagine what would happen if these two parties came together when Alim's overbearing, marriage-crazy Canadian mother, Nuru,  pays a visit to her son in London? In fact, that's all Alim can imagine -- except for Cary Grant (Kyle MacLachlan), his suave and ubiquitous spiritual adviser, who has an awareness of his own condition (i.e., deceased for 20-some years) and a penchant for shtick ("I first died when I did The Pride and the Passion in '59").

 

And so with Touch of Pink we get Woody Allen's Play It Again, Sam meets Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet, a pleasant little why-can't-we-all-just-get-along-after-some-bittersweet-conflict comedy, written and directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid, a poet and filmmaker who was born in Tanzania, raised in Canada, and who is, I'm guessing, neither Jewish nor Chinese.

 

Alim (Jimi Mistry) is a movie-set photographer lost in his numerous imaginary worlds. This provides a certain double logic to his relationship (since childhood) with Grant, whose own sexuality has drawn speculation, and who uses movies as metaphors: When Alim ponders telling his mother the truth, Grant tells him to stay in character (i.e., remain in the closet). And as you'll anticipate, Touch of Pink takes Alim from his furtive two-dimensional life into a messier but liberating reality that lets it all hang out -- but that still has room for happy endings.

 

All of this is terribly sweet and charming, with enough flecks of warmth and humor to carry it along. Grant gets the best lines (the plastic on Nuru's furniture "keeps the evil fresh"), and the English take the requisite thrashing for their imperialistic foibles. Naturally, Rashid rounds up the usual themes: Don't pre-judge, love conquers all, and be proud of yourself and your heritage. He lights his movie brightly, to go with its disposition, and while his direction is sometimes sluggish, he does stage a few fluid sequences on the town that make notoriously soggy London look like it never ever rains. 2.5 cameras

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