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In the upper echelons of traditional Middle Eastern society, Reema and Omar prepare for the marriage of their daughter Tala. But back at work in London, Tala encounters Leyla, a young British Indian woman who is dating Tala's best friend Ali. Tala sees something unique in the artless, clumsy, sensitive Leyla who secretly works to become a writer. And Tala's forthright challenges to Leyla's beliefs begins a journey of self-awareness for Leyla. As the women fall in love, Tala's own sense of duty and cultural restraint cause her to pull away from Leyla and fly back to Jordan where the preparations for an ostentatious wedding are well under way. As family members descend and the wedding day approaches, the pressure mounts until Tala finally cracks and extricates herself. Back in London, Leyla is heartbroken but learns to break free of her own self-doubt and her mother's expectations, ditching Ali and being honest with her parents about her sexuality. When Ali and Leyla's feisty sister ... Written by
"Nice" but the potential isn't really realised due to a clunky script and some wooden performances
While I'm sure that the vast majority of male viewers of this film will have come to it because of how easy on the eye the two lead actresses are, but for me I came to it because I had heard that it was a quite charming little film about culture clashes and coming out. From the outset there is certainly a degree of charm that comes with the rather glossy sheen on the total production and certainly the performances are mostly geared towards "light" material rather than anything too complex. It also, having an autobiographical content, comes over as warmly sympathetic to the two protagonists a feeling that it easily allows the viewer to share. However, none of this is enough to make it as good as it could have been, mainly because of the problems with the material.
The film is very short and this combines with some awful dialogue to make everything feel very superficial. While some of the scenes between Tala and Leyla are touching and intimate, some of them have all the subtly and realism of set-up dialogue in a p0rn film. Leyla is well done as more reserved and laid back but Tala is too forward and rushed, making everything happen suddenly without any indication that either of the two women are having any sort of inner though process at all. I was surprised because I had heard some good things about it but at times I was half expecting one of the characters to start saying things like "oh, my, look my shirt has come undone" and other clunky lines truth be told it is sometimes not far from that.
This does really hurt the film but not alone "helping" it alone is also a lack of real development in the characters and situations themselves. Everything is little more than words and I never got the sense of much below the surface again surprising since the film is supposed to be based on the maker's real life experiences. Perhaps because of this, the performances tend towards being a bit wooden and really only manage to do more because of the performers themselves. Sheth is probably the stronger of the lead two because she has the most vulnerability to her character and is on the most interesting journey; she does this well. Ray is not so good. Her performance plays thinks too strong and confident and there is no discovery to her, no small steps and no real sign of anything going on below the surface. Together they make a very attractive couple but their performances and their dialogue limits their chemistry. The supporting cast are mostly pretty stiff and unconvincing, hurting the narrative but also fudging the occasional attempts at humour.
Overall I Can't Think Straight is a nice idea that is done with a certain amount of charm, but not enough to cover the problems with it. The lack of depth and complexity (even in basic ways) are what hurts it because it turns what could have been an interesting and touching film into one that is overwhelmingly superficial in its design and delivery. Still a nice film but could and could have been so much more.
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