‘Touch of Pink’ gets it just right | AspenTimes.com

‘Touch of Pink’ gets it just right

Stewart Oksenhorn
Kyle MacLachlan, left, and Jimi Mistry star in "A Touch of Pink," showing today and Thursday at the Wheeler Opera House. Carol Racicot photo.

The essential theme of homosexually themed films – coming to terms, privately and publicly, with being gay – has been well worked over. (See, for example, “Far From Heaven,” “Big Eden,” “In & Out,” “Latter Days.”)And there have been enough films about the offspring of immigrants struggling with the mix of old- and new-world values – “Monsoon Wedding,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Bend It Like Beckham,” to name a few – it is practically a genre unto itself.So how to address such issues without seeming to tread on old ground? Easy. In “A Touch of Pink,” the first feature film by writer-director Ian Iqbal Rashid, the two are commingled – with a touch of Woody Allen’s “Play It Again, Sam” thrown in.

There is so much familiar ground here that reading about “A Touch of Pink” may elicit an experience of déjà vu. For one, the title is a play on the 1962 Cary Grant/Doris Day romance “That Touch of Mink.” (More on the Cary Grant connection in a moment.)Alim (Jimi Mistry) is a 30-ish, Indian-born gay man, living in London, whose widowed, status-conscious, Muslim mother Nuru (Sue Mathew) is coming from Toronto to visit – and hopefully to persuade Alim to move back to the fold in clean, calm Canada. Alim is torn by whether to reveal his sexuality to his mother, an option pushed by his loving, live-in boyfriend, Giles (Kristen Holden-Reid). Counseling in favor of keeping his sexual identity a secret is the ghost of Cary Grant (Kyle MacLachlan), whom Alim keeps close by his side for advice and for late-night, vintage-romance film sessions. And, of course, there is a wedding, for what better way to divine the truths about generational drift than a big, fat, ethnic wedding? In this case, it is the wedding of Alim’s childhood friend, Khaled, a dentist who is held up as the model of success and traditional Muslim values. (Oh, if the parents only knew the true Khaled.)

Khaled’s wedding is the hook which Nuru dangles in front of Alim to lure her son back to Toronto, back to family and friends, away from the perils of a gritty city like London.It’s all fairly predictable, from the near-miss revelations about Alim’s sexuality to the stand-in girlfriend to the eventual ideological transformation that takes hold of Nuru. Even the wackiest element of the film, the spirit of Cary Grant, has been seen before: Grant gives hard-boiled advice from the beyond in the vein of Humphrey Bogart in “Play It Again, Sam.” But “A Touch of Pink” manages to overcome the rehashed themes and plot elements by having a lot of fun with the old ideas and its likable characters.

MacLachlan is a blast as the dapper Grant – giving macho, steel-jawed advice to Alim on why he should remain in the closet. Nuru’s move from staunch, anti-gay Muslim to Rainbow Coalition cheerleader happens in the blink of an eye – but the instantaneous change of heart doesn’t stop us from cheering her broadened views. Topping it off is the performance of Holden-Reid, who is handsome, funny, sensitive – and would seem to have a good chance to move into traditional leading-man roles.”A Touch of Pink” is the sort of movie that invites one not to think too much, but sit back and enjoy. It also makes it fairly easy to do so.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com

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