31 January 2009

Touch of Pink

This isn't a particularly brilliant film, but it definitely has its moments. It's about a gay guy who's dealing with the prospect of coming out to his mother. Fairly standard stuff, so to spice it up, his mother is Indian, his lover is British, leading to some fabulous cross-culture hijinks. To make it even better, his extended family is in the midst of planning a big wedding for his cousin - always ample opportunities for humor there - and as a final capper, the main character has an invisible friend - the ghost of Cary Grant. Sounds crazy, and it is, but in fact, the quirkiness of it goes a long way in compensating for the otherwise somewhat stock premise. It doesn't quite suffice to make up for the fact that the protagonist is a somewhat whiny, insipid guy, but hey, you can't have everything. 

Actually, the cross-cultural aspect of the film is pretty ballsy, and definitely has teeth. It starts on the humorous side, with the mother being extremely rude to the British boyfriend (who she thinks is a roommate) but progresses to some heavier stuff about self-hatred (on the part of the protagonist) and a kind of exoticizing fascination (on the part of the lover) - just because you order your tandoori extra hot, doesn't make you any less white. I don't mean to imply that the movie really deals with these issues with any kind of depth - it doesn't. It tosses out these compelling lines and then cheerfully glides over the underlying tensions they represent, moving determinedly towards its inevitable happy ending. But at least those lines are there.

Actually, what's kind of intriguing about the movie is that the invisible friend, ie, the ghost of Cary Grant, is used in an entirely different way than such characters generally are. He's meant to be the guiding light, and indeed, he acts as though he were, but it can't be ignored that his advice is almost always terrible, and leads to nothing but trouble. Not in a hilarious mischief sort of way - it's actually largely unstated how destructive he is, and is rarely a cause for humor. Though he's plenty amusing - who knew that Cary Grant was so sassy? He is also, rather curiously, quite a racist, which oddly enough, is milked for added humor. The more that I think about it, the more strange it is, really. What in the hell is this movie trying to say?

Anyhow, although it's far from being a masterpiece, it's not a bad way to spend an afternoon. 

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