Homophobia in Muslim families and communities is a topic ripe for exploration, but as its eye-rollingly lame titular pun makes clear, I Can’t Think Straight isn’t the film to do it. Shot with the gracelessness of a subpar student film and written with similar ungainliness, Shamim Sarif’s romance is a pantomime of a mid-‘90s Amerindie, charting the story of rebellious Palestinian beauty Tala (Lisa Ray) who, having already broken off three hetero engagements, drops yet another fiancé to canoodle with Indian Leyla (Sheetal Sheth). Their love is forbidden, as are any traces of logic or understatement, with the film’s beyond-clichéd narrative—full of Arabs and Indians who are either wholly tolerant or intolerant—first depicting Tala as a huntress pursuing Leyla like a wolf stalks sheep, and then turning on a dime and having it be Lelya who teaches Tala to “be open with yourself” and embrace (not to mention tell her parents about) her lesbianism. Every discussion is a Big Conversation typified by frying-pan-to-the-face obviousness and accompanied by smushy female crooning in English and Arabic, while every performance functions like a mini-tutorial on acting artificiality. Sarif and co-screenwriter Kelly Moss’s plotting barely rises to the level of A-B-C, and the same holds true for Sarif’s direction, which is full of drab, head-on compositions that struggle to rise to the level of functional. Via a housekeeper who makes funny-happy faces behind her stern employer’s back, Sarif attempts humor, though such efforts prove almost as pitiful as the film’s embarrassing sex scenes—full of slow-motion close-ups of lips, hands on skin, and hair, hair, hair!—and sketchy address of conservative Palestinians’ anti-Semitism. Ray and Sheth have all the chemistry of peanut butter and arsenic but more problematic is their one-dimensional emoting, though it’s ultimately in keeping with the film’s aptitude for tackling subject matter with the least amount of grace and subtlety possible.
- Regent Releasing
- 80 min
- Shamim Sarif
- Kelly Moss, Shamim Sarif
- Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth, Antonia Frering Dalop Tahil, Nina Wadia, Ernest Ignatius, Siddiqua Akhtar, Amber Rose Revah, Anya Lahiri, Kimberly Jarai
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