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Touch of Pink

Fri 27 May 2005 In: Movies

TOUCH OF PINK Dir: Ian Iqbal Rashid, 2003, Canada, 35mm, 91 mins It's a sign that GLBT cinema is coming of age that we can say there is such a thing as a well-worn plot, but seeing as there are only thirty-odd plots in existence, it's just as well that GLBT filmmakers are more talented when it comes to providing fresh new twists on them – such is the case of Touch of Pink, the best film to open the Out Takes festival in the last four years. A sweet romantic comedy based around the mayhem and deception of trying not to reveal your sexuality to a visiting parent, Touch of Pink manages to work in cultural clashes, sexual, racial and religious politics, wonderfully drawn characters, sexy and smoochy moments, and dialogue so sharp you need an ambulance on standby. Oh – and there's also the ghost of Cary Grant on hand to provide help for our hero, the slightly neurotic Canadian lapsed-Muslim Alim. Alim lives in London with his sexually-charged British boyfriend Giles. They're just celebrating their anniversary, with a party organised by Giles' parents and all seems well. But the impending arrival of Alim's conservative mother Nuru will force the couple back into the closet, much to Giles annoyance. Nuru is a character worthy of the cutting Katherine Hepburn-esque dames that populated Hollywood cinema of the forties and fifties, films that Alim is obsessed with. His guardian angel Cary Grant, played by Twin Peaks Kyle McLachlan, likes to watch those films – particularly his – and provide useful advice, such as "stay closeted". It's a light and frothy confection, but one that shows GLBT filmmakers are so much more ahead of the play when it comes to making entertaining popcorn films. It is a rare thing indeed to have an audience with a movie from the very first frame, cheering, applauding and laughing their way through its entire life-affirming, if slightly schmaltzy, length. There was none of this to be seen at a recent screening of the hetero-Bollywood flick Bride and Prejudice, which covered much of the same Middle-Eastern/European culture clash themes with much less success. Director Rashid is an expert in audience manipulation. You know exactly what's going to happen in the end, yet he still strings you along and keeps the comedic and dramatic tension tight. And in a story dealing with closet issues, it's a stroke genius to choose for a guardian angel Cary Grant – a Hollywood legend who lived in the closet all his life, giving up his true male love Randolph Scott for a succession of failed marriages at the behest of his studio. Just like the real one, this Cary Grant also gets many of the best lines. For all those who say they aim to bring a "mainstream sensibility" to GLBT works, this film is textbook. It doesn't pull punches, it doesn't sanitise the relationship of the main characters, and it doesn't compromise on issues. One of the only regrets is that the film was probably conceived just a year or so too early to include a Canadian gay wedding, but overall this is a boys' comedy that keeps the lesbians laughing too. There are moments in Touch of Pink every gay audience member will identify with. Chris Banks - 27th May 2005    

Credit: Chris Banks

First published: Friday, 27th May 2005 - 12:00pm

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