|One of the more tired clichés in queer cinema is the "coming out"
film. You know what I'm talking about: parent doesn't know the child is
gay (or lesbian) and the child must struggle to come clean. It usually ends
with the parent coming round and accepting the child's sexual orientation.
I'm often leery of these movies as too many filmmakers mine this territory.
So when a movie like Touch of Pink comes along that takes this
mundane plot and spins it into something new, attention must be paid.
Touch of Pink centers on a gay Muslim, Alim (Jimi Mistry)
who has fled his Toronto home and settled in London, where he's happily
coupled with his economist boyfriend Giles (Kristen Holden-Reid). Alim is
a photographer who works on movie sets. He also relies on advice from a
guardian angel of sorts, "the spirit of Cary Grant" (portrayed by Kyle
MacLachlan). Grant's advice is often rooted in his films and some of his
quips are among the funniest lines in the film.
The conflict arises when Alim's widowed mother Nuru (Suleka
Mathew) decides to visit London and convince her son to attend the
impending marriage of her nephew Khaled (Raoul Bhaneja). The endless
prattle of her status-conscience sister Dolly (Veena Sood) grates on Nuru,
who feels the pang of being separated from her son and the desire for him
to be married. As a young woman, Nuru had spent time in London, but it
ended unhappily and she finally emigrated to Canada.
Of course, Nuru's arrival in London causes all sorts of
misunderstandings. Alim wants to confess the truth to his mother, but
Cary Grant continues to offer advice to the contrary. Nuru initially takes a
dislike to her son's "roommate" Giles, but after spending a day together,
they bond. Still, Alim's refusal to come clean about their relationship drives
a wedge between him and Giles. And when he does tell his mother the
truth, she becomes hurt and angry and heads back to Toronto for the
upcoming wedding. Alim eventually follows her, and since this is a
comedy, there is a happy resolution, although with bittersweet
There are so many things that make this film wonderful, from the
matter-of-fact presentation of South Asians to an interracial gay couple to
the terrific performances. Mistry and Holden-Reid are good as Alim and
Giles (although one intimate scene should perhaps be trimmed; the actors
are clearly uncomfortable and it mars the film slightly). MacLachlan does a
nice job impersonating Grant and captures the essence of the suave,
debonair characters for which the actor was famous for playing in the
1930s and 40s. But the film belongs to actress Suleka Mathew. This
gorgeous woman delivers a heartfelt, scene-stealing turn as Nuru. Every
moment she is on screen enlivens the movie and if I were the studio
marketing executives, I'd start planning a campaign to snag her a Best
Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
One easily could argue that NewFest saved the best for last when
they programmed Touch of Pink as the closing night film.
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and brief language.
Running time: 92 mins.
Viewed at the NewFest, Loews Cineplex Entertainment 34th St. Theater
|Touch of Pink