I Can't Think Straight Directed by: Shamim Sharif Cast: Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth, Antonia Frering, Rez Kempton Running Time: 1 hr 30 min Rating: PG-13 Opens: Dec. 12 in Portland at the Hollywood Theatre
Plot: Tala (Lisa Ray), a Christian Jordanian from a wealthy family, becomes engaged and returns to London to meet with friends before her wedding. There she meets Leyla (Sheetal Sheth), the girlfriend of her best friend Ali. After a tenuous courtship, the two women end up involved in a secret romantic relationship. With Tala's impending nuptials, the women must make a choice, to live a lie or come out and be who they are, together.
Who’s It For? Do you ever watch romantic comedies and think, if only the two were both women and really hot? Then this is for you! But only if you don't like your comedy especially comedic, or your drama overly romantic.
Expectations: A dramatic, coming out indie film. Also I thought it would be spoken in a foreign language. So, I didn't know much about it. Except the lesbian part.
Actors: Lisa Ray as Tala: I had a hard time figuring her out at first. She plays the seductress early in the film, though you wonder if she means it. Is she toying with Leyla or genuinely attracted? I can't say that her performance totally won me over; she seems to move from being in charge to confused and contrite way too easily. I never totally got a handle on her as a character. But as an actress, she has really great hair. Score: 5
Sheetal Sheth as Leyla: Leyla is much easier to understand. She's in a relationship but her heart isn't in it. She has a job working for her father, who adores her, but it isn't what she wants to do for the rest of her life. She seems enthralled with Tala, though it does seem odd that she goes to bed with her that quickly. The events that happen afterwards seem reasonably natural. Well, except for the whole, not even mentioning how she rationalizes being a Muslim and a lesbian. Score: 6
Antonia Frering as Reema: As Tala's conservative mother, Frering is just one of many secondary characters in the film, none of whom are terribly well realized. Reema is of Palestian descent, hates Israelis and doesn't like her daughter becoming a lesbian. She's so close-minded and mean, that she's hard to like or care about. Score: 3
Rez Kempton as Ali: He's a nice guy who seems oblivious to the fact that his best friend and his girlfriend are both lesbians. Wouldn't this put a normal guy in therapy? An affable actor, though his character really has nowhere to go. He's just a catalyst for the meeting of the two leads. Score: 5
Talking: The script, from Shamim Sarif and Kelly Moss, is based on Sarif's own novel. She seems to have an understanding for the way women talk, and there are a few genuinely funny lines--just not enough of them. Score: 6
Sights: The film takes place around suburban London and Oxford. It's pretty and green and decently shot, very much in the vein of any romantic comedy. Plus the leads both have great hair and complexions, and they seem to glow. Unfortunately, it's due to good makeup rather than intense chemistry. Score: 6
Sounds: Wow, it was like Lillith Fair exploded all over this movie. Melissa Ethridge can be good, but a soundtrack full of Ethridge wannabes, not so much. I haven't heard this much vagina music in one sitting since the TV show Felicity went off the air. Score: 2
Best Scene: The scene after the women sleep together for the first time and reveal how they discovered they were lesbians. It was when I finally got a handle on who they were. Tala seemed so assured in this relationship despite ostensibly being straight, so when she explains she'd had a relationship with a woman before, it all made more sense.
Ending: Super happy. Both women are out to their families and decide to be together. Now they're going to have kids! It's all tied up in a neat little bow.
Questions: Early in the film, questions of ethnicity and religion come up between the two women and their heterosexual partners, how come they don't come up between Tala and Leyla in their relationship? Why is Leyla's father ok with her being gay despite his strong Muslim beliefs? Why is Tala's clothes obsessed sister always so angry? Why isn't Ali in therapy after every women he knows becomes a lesbian? Why is this romantic comedy neither terribly romantic or comedic?
Rewatchability: None. It wasn't awful to see once, but I wouldn't want to run out and see it again.
The film reminded me of Bend it Like Beckham, with lesbians and without soccer. Or comedy. Or much desire to root for the characters. Both Tala and Leyla feel like characters being pushed by events, not guiding them. Toward the end, Leyla makes changes in her life, but they're mostly dealt with in a montage, meaning I never had any sense of really connecting with her and wanting her to succeed. She's a bit wishy-washy. That said, the story wasn't completely predictable and I appreciate a film that can surprise me, even in very little ways.
Final Score: 5/10