Aug 10, 2014

[Movies] Touch of Pink (2004)

I'm pretty sure that I've already written a review for this movie, but since I can't find it here on the Geeky Guide, it was probably during the old Multiply days of reviews. Yes, I totally posted reviews on that now-dead social network. So again for the sake of completion, let's try drafting an updated review of this rather charming movie.

Touch of Pink will always have a special place in my heart for one reason or another. Sure, it's not a perfect movie and there are many better LGBT romantic comedies out there. But at the same time this movie is just so, um, I need a word other than charming, but that's really it. And I guess I feel so strongly for this movie primarily because it's not exactly a movie that a lot of people know about. We all have little niche movies like this that we enjoy celebrating.

And while far from perfect, there's a lot to like about this movie. It has some pretty solid writing that went into its creation and thus resulted in some of the wittiest one-liners that you'd expect to be delivered by a gay man but instead mostly come from a mother. Oh snap.

Synopsis: Touch of Pink is a 2004 British-Canadian LGBT romantic comedy movie written and directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid. It originally premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival to great acclaim - which was a pleasant surprise given this was Rashid's first feature film.

The movie centers around Alim (Jimi Mistry), a man born in Kenya, raised in Toronto, Canada but now living in London. His primary goal was to get away from the confines of his conservative family and to strike out on his own. This has also allowed him to embrace his homosexuality to the point that he is currently in a relationship with a Londoner named Giles (Kristen Holden-Ried). Thus he continues to juggle the complications of his relationship and gathering up the courage to finally tell his widowed mother, Nuru (Suleka Mathew) the truth about himself.

One odd twist is the fact that Alim often seeks counsel from an imaginary friend of sorts - one who appears to manifest as some version of the actor Cary Grant (as portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan). But of course this spiritual Grant of sorts tends to give advice based on the various characters that Grant has played, and so the results of following said advice are often less than ideal. And all things come to a head when Nuru decides to visit her son in London, forcing him to hide the truth about Giles, thus further harming their relationship.

On the surface, the movie contains a lot of plot elements that are already a little cliche among LGBT movies. We have the closeted gay son hiding the truth about himself about his mother. We have the contrived reason for the mother to come visit and the awkward farce involving pretending the boyfriend is nothing but a lodger. And there are all the other usual hijinks that follow such a plot.

But for one reason or another, the movie manages to rise above the cliches and still put out a decent comedy. And a lot of that has more to do with the writing and the excellent delivery of said lines by Suleka Matthew. Sure, Jimi Mistry is a decent enough comedic actor given the role given to him, but it's Suleka who really steals the show here. And to be fair, she was probably written that way.

As the nosy, over-protective mother, Nuru was clearly written to antagonize just about everyone. And while her son Alim manages to hold his own against the barbs of his boyfriend Giles, Nuru really stirs up a storm that has everyone on the defensive. I'm tempted to start quote lines, but that might take up too much time - plus it might spoil a lot of the fun. If anything, it's probably easiest to think of Nuru as a fag hag given how quickly she can come up with a cutting remark to help her get the final say in any discussion.

At the same time, there's not too much left of the movie apart from the one-liners between the characters. It is never truly clear why Alim fixates on Cary Grant so much that he actually conjures up an imaginary version of the actor to talk to day in and day out. If anything, it's a little disturbing when you seriously conside what kind of trauma his character may be working through to have such a figure in his life. Things could be different of course if you assume that it truly is the spirit of Cary Grant speaking to him all this time and giving him advice. I don't know how to pursue that alternative hypothesis. I'm just thankful that Kyle MacLachlin was delightfully hammy as a caricature of Cary Grant.

The movie can be rather cheesy and its ending is a tad contrived, so don't think too much about that. This is not a serious movie to base one's life on or to use as a sort of inspiration for things moving forward. If anything, it's a fun popcorn flick with great zingers that deserve to be memorized and squeezed into conversations with your gay friends in the hopes that they actually appreciate the wit behind it. In a local context, I admit a lot of folks that I know may not necessarily fall into this category of wit and social intelligence.

Touch of Pink is still a bit of a beloved movie in my collection and one that I don't mind watching repeatedly. It's definitely one of those "not for everyone" kind of movies, but do try to keep an open mind and I'm sure you'll find something to enjoy about it on a lazy evening. Thus the movie rates 4 metaphorical baby grand pianos not serving their purpose out of a possible 5.


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