Posted by: fudgie99 | February 17, 2009

I Can’t Think Straight

thinkstraight1I have been stalking this movie online since Afterellen.com put an article up about it a year ago. It’s now almost two years old and only in limited theatrical release (and film festival circuits) in the United States. I was checking out the Here! channel website to see when Sugar rush was starting (a queer tv show from the UK) and saw that you could watch the movie on their website- no more watching pirated youtube videos, here was the finished product.

I saw The World Unseen (which I will review in the future) and enjoyed it (don’t talk to the lesbians who I went to see it with though). It is subtler, more chaste, and slower moving than I Can’t Think Straight, but I loved both main actresses (the same in both movies) and the connection they conjured up on screen. I was curious to see the two women in a more modern day lesbian romance.

The beginning is rather exotic and showy, unlike the rest of the movie. You first meet Tala (Lisa Ray), who is a christian Palestinian from Jordan preparing for her wedding. Her mother’s over the top with her cigarette holder and entourage of servants. Tala also has one “good” (read: openminded) sister and one “bad” (read: conservative) sister for contrast.

Back in London, you meet Leyla (Sheetal Sheth), a British Indian woman working for her father, but with a passion for writing literature. Her mother is a traditional Indian woman and her sister is a free spirited waitress. Oh, and she has a boyfriend of two months who happens to be friends with Tala. Thus, they meet.

You can see Tala makes Leyla uncomfortable- either because she’s undeniably hot, or because of her blunt conversation skills is unclear, but they start to spend more time together. There are tell tale lesbian signs- Leyla lying to her parents about the time she’s spending with Tala, knowing it means more to her than she wants anyone to know. Her mother saying (regarding Leyla’s boyfriend, Ali) “At least you’re making an effort for a change.”  I just remember trying to be interested in boys, my friends pushing me to go talk to them, and thinking “How long do I have to stand here and act interested before I can go back and be with who I really want to be with, my best girl friends, who I did not realize I wanted more from then friendship.

Although the focus in the movie seems to be on how the two women are different they actually have a lot in common, a love of art and literature, an inner strength and passion, a love of family connection. The dance scene is sensual, but they make the mistake (in my opinion) of the too close sex scene- is that her breast, or her elbow- is she kissing her ass, or her big toe? who can tell, since the camera is right on top of them. Oh well, at least they kept the light on.

Sleeping with a woman is not new to Tala, but as much as she likes to “take chances” she can’t accept the notion of being shunned by her culture and family and refuses to continue the relationship. Leyla on the other hand, can’t go back to pretending- the feeling of freedom is worth more than acceptance. As they part, Tala says she doesn’t want to ruin lives, and Leyla lays the truth before her “You will, most importantly, your own.”

The coming out scenes were done well, in my opinion,  including one of my favorite lines “I thought you just wanted us to be happy?” Her mother’s answer, “I lied.” Did they talk to my mother, because their was definitely a similar thread when I came out. Everyone all about what a “difficult life”, when they didn’t realize how difficult it had been to try to be something I was not, and then, hiding out of shame, the parts of me I thought they would find unacceptable. What a great weight to be open and honest, and Leyla finds that out. Things aren’t perfect, but she’s happy.

Of course, this is in essence a romantic comedy, so Tala does not get married and is able to win Leyla back into her life. The last sex scene is not so close up and even sexier than the first. The movie ends a bit too neatly, but I like it all the same- what lesbian doesn’t want the lesbians together and happy, supported and cared for, in the end?

The added dynamic of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Muslim/Christian contrast, and coming out by women of Indian and Arab descent, added a thoughtfulness usually absent from romantic comedies. As a white, middle class, American lesbian, I don’t always think of the conflicting loyalties that I have read about between lesbians who feel torn between the queer community and their ethnic community.

I thought it was interesting that both mothers took the coming out of their daughters much harder than the fathers. Although this was the case in my life, I know it’s different for everyone.  Other noteworthy fun facts, the director and writer of the script, Shamim Sharif, can be seen in the book signing scene, and her two children, with her partner (who produced the film) are in the final scene. The movie is reportedly somewhat autobiographical of the two women’s relationship, adding an added touch of authenticity.

I enjoyed this movie, but the dialog was a little clunky at times. I wanted it to be better than it was, but regardless, I found it entertaining and thought provoking. This is somewhat biased in that I think I could watch the two main characters mow the lawn or clip coupons for an hour and a half and not be bored, but that’s just me. They definitely deserve a second picture.

cantthinkstraight1

3 stars- catpower

Favorite lines (not already mentioned)

“He’s 6 foot 7, all I can see is his navel”

“How come you get a dress that’s elegant and I get one that’s Liberace?”

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Responses

  1. […] more from the original source:  I Can’t Think Straight « Grrls on Film Share and […]

  2. Loved the movie. Great lesbian love story. Must have watched it at least 4 times now

  3. I also loved this movie. A fun romantic comedy lesbian love story. Hey BTW I just bought the DVD of I Can’t think straight right from the official website. If anyone want to buy it here is the link of the page: http://www.enlightenment-productions.com/index.php?page=howtoget

  4. Thanks Rose for the link I was waiting for the DVDs now finally it is available. 🙂

    – Kristy

  5. Found a copy of this in Beijing, of all unlikely places. I thought the plot was a bit predictable, but the dialog had its moments, and I’d probably join you in watching the main actresses clip coupons. 😛

    My favorite line was the one from the gossipy woman at the end: “She’s what? But lots of my friends are Lebanese!”


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