One of my ex-boyfriends said it best: Lisa Ray is everyone’s type. The Bollywood Hollywood actor certainly lights up the screen in I Can’t Think Straight.
If one were inclined to think of her as a seductive goddess before, seeing her in her most sexually aggressive role to date might be all the reason anyone needs to see this film. But in addition to its soft-core moments, I Can’t Think Straight is a quirky romance with solid politics.
Tension and conflict seem inevitable when Leyla (played perfectly by Sheetal Sheth) meets Tala (Lisa Ray) through Leyla’s boyfriend and Tala’s mother.
Leyla lives with her parents and is apprenticing in her father’s business even though she really wants to be a writer. Tala’s life appears more luxurious but beneath her cool exterior, she is conflicted. Set against a backdrop of mansions, country clubs and Oxford, the women struggle to come to terms with themselves in the midst of countless projected and self-imposed expectations. The film is as much about class, family and religion as it is about sexuality with the characters exploring not just want they will gain by coming out but also facing what they stand to lose.
The two women, both of whom are supposed to be marrying men, are also from vastly different cultural and religious backgrounds and grapple with their intricate identities. Despite their best efforts, they can’t ignore the sparks between them.
I Can’t Think Straight is a comedy that takes a serious look at friendships between women and gives the resulting relationship due complexity. It explores an array of tensions between sisters, mothers and daughters as both women’s families struggle to come to terms with the obvious love affair that is determined to confound everyone’s expectations.
Another appealing quality of I Can’t Think Straight is the respectful portrayal of men in the film; the father-daughter dynamics ranges from tense to sweet to tear jerking and the portrayals of the boyfriends who contribute to the lives of both women are treated with care.
The film’s authenticity may have something to do with its autobiographical nature. Loosely based on writer-director Shamim Sarif’s experiences, it is a “true” love story. Sarif’s wife, Hanan Kattan, is not only the inspiration for the Tala character, she is also the producer of the film. The dynamic duo lives in the UK where they collaborate on all kinds of projects with their joint company Enlightenment Productions.
I Can’t Think Straight is a fun and flirty way to kick off this year’s Queer Film Festival. It is thoughtful, humourous and sexy — a perfect fit for the festival itself.