A Fond Kiss

on November 26, 2004 by Jordan Reed
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While similar in theme to that of the star-cross'd lovers of "Romeo and Juliet," Ken Loach's latest film "A Fond Kiss" instead pits the Muslimgues versus the Catholets in modern-day Glasgow. When Casim (Atta Yaqub), a young Pakistani DJ with dreams of opening his own club, begins seeing Roisin (Eva Birthistle), a music teacher at the Catholic high school his sister Shabana (Tahara Khan) attends, both of their communities object. Casim's folks have arranged his marriage to a cousin, and Eva's parochial pastor threatens to keep her from her work unless she ends the relationship.

Loach does an amiable job detailing middle- and working-class Glasgow -- replete with the sometimes unintelligible accents that forced his "My Name is Joe" to require subtitles. But he sheds little new light on the inevitable clashes between parents rooted to their native culture and their Western-influenced offspring. Akin to Tareque Masud's "The Clay Bird" and even closer to Damien O' Donnell's "East is East," "A Fond Kiss" suffers from a similar dearth of empathy. Yes, family is important, but when parents put religion, and the narrow-minded views it sometimes fosters, in front of the happiness and well-being of their own children (mom and pop won't even let Shabana leave town for college), it seems patently unfair -- and dramatic tension slackens. Casim offers up his father's harrowing past in Pakistan as an explanation for his obstinacy; one would think he would have learned some tolerance from his experience with such deadly bigotry. No such luck. And then Casim's older sister Rukhsana (Ghizala Avan) confronts Roisin with tales of daddy's standing with the area Muslims falling to pieces. (Her brother's transgressions have put her own arranged marriage in jeopardy, as well, by the way.) Western religions have their own myriad faults, of course, but if the Muslim "community" -- or any other, for that matter -- turns so readily toward exclusion, better for Casim to be exiled than to conform to its outmoded and inhumane tenets. Starring Atta Yaqub and Eva Birthistle. Directed by Ken Loach. Written by Paul Laverty. Produced by Rebecca O'Brien. A Castle Hill release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 104 minutes

Tags: Starring Atta Yaqub, Eva Birthistle, Directed by Ken Loach, Written by Paul Laverty, Produced by Rebecca O'Brien, Castle Hill, Drama
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