Touch of Pink

on July 16, 2004 by Annlee Ellingson
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Alim (Jimi Mistry) is a young, gay Ismaili-Canadian who lives happily out of the closet on one side of the Atlantic while hanging neatly inside it on the other. A movie lover living in London, he's fashioned a career for himself as a still photographer on film sets and makes his home in a flat with his peaches-and-cream boyfriend Giles (Kristen Holden-Ried). The apartment is cramped, however, what with the spirit of Cary Grant (Kyle MacLachlan) hanging about.

This delicate balance Alim has carefully preserved is upset when his mother Nuru (Suleka Mathew) decides to fly in from Toronto for a visit. As her sister prepares for her nephew's wedding, Nuru has determined that it's high time Alim get married, too, and produce some grandchildren while he's at it. Hi-jinx ensue as culture, values and sexuality clash.

But Alim's coming-out story is only the half of it. His revelation to his mother, although painful, is less the focal point of the film than the catalyst for what's more important. Giles is frustrated with Alim's insecurities and self-hatred even before his mother came to visit, so Alim decides to follow Nuru home to Canada for his cousin's wedding in a move that will allow him to finally be honest with his family and true to himself.

Touch of Pink Meanwhile, Cary Grant's ghost--an emanation of Alim's psyche after one too many nights staying up late watching old movies--chips in with unhelpful and largely unwanted advice on topics ranging from fashion ("Only the truly stylish can manage rumpled elegance.") to conflict resolution ("You told the truth--documentary style. Interesting strategy."). MacLachlan is pitch-perfect in the role, capturing the matinee idol's wit and elegance and charm. But he's not Cary Grant--he's an amalgamation of the characters Cary Grant played, here out of his era and coming off as almost cartoonish in his lack of skills with which to navigate the real world.

Obviously a cinephile himself, writer/director Ian Iqbal Rashid infuses "Touch of Pink" with the spirit and energy of the classic romantic comedies that it evokes while painting a portrait of a richly characterized mother and son who unwittingly share a mutual affection for cinema. It's a fantasy world that both ultimately must sacrifice, however, as real life can never--nor should ever--live up to the Tinseltown version. Starring Jimi Mistry, Kyle MacLachlan, Kristen Holden-Ried and Suleka Matthew. Written and directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid. Produced by Jennifer Kawaja, Martin Pope and Julia Sereny. A Sony Classics release. Romantic comedy. Rated R for sexual content and brief language. Running time: 91 min

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