Tuesday, March 31, 2009

LLGFF: Love in Suburbia

Still from I Can't Think Straight
Patrik 1,5 dir Ella Lemhagen
I Can't Think Straight dir Shamim Sarif

Family life is a big theme this year at the festival and these two rom-coms explore different facets. In the Swedish comedy Patrik 1,5, Goran and Sven's plan to adopt a sweet baby take a wrong turn as they end up with 15-year-old homophobic tearaway Patrik. A sharply observed satire of what lurks behind the manicured gardens and Volvos in the driveway of suburbia is the main attraction of this film, along with Goran, Sven and Patrik's interplay. Very well done.

The polo fields and palatial residences of I Can't Think Straight don't belong to any London I recognise, but this comedy operates in a pseudo-Richard Curtis world in which everyone is rich and looks like a model. Instead of a floppy-haired Hugh Grant, we get glacial Lisa Ray and wide-eyed Sheetal Sheth negotiating a bumpy cross-cultural romance, observed by their traditional families. These two were the leads in Sarif's The World Unseen (shot after this film but released before), which was also beset by clunky dialogue and over-acting. In this film, I found Ray quite wooden and not believable as a Jordanian, her emotional range veering between flirtatious and slightly puzzled. Many of the supporting characters, such as Nina Wadia's maid and the two mothers, are reduced to one-note jokes. A pity, as the film looks sumptuous and there are some fine comic set pieces.

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