Monday, August 16, 2010

I Can't Think Straight vs. The World Unseen [**/****]

If you haven’t heard the name Shamim Sarif already, then let me quickly educate you. Shamim Sarif was born and raised in South Africa. She is an award winning writer and director, known to take her novels/short stories, translate them into screenplays and then make them into films. She is happily married to her wife, Hanan, and they have two children (or at least that is what I can deduce from her blog).

Shamim is best known in the LGBTQ sphere for her movies I Can’t Think Straight (2007) and The World Unseen (2007). The plotlines between these two movies, and the casting, have notable overlaps. Both star Sheetal Sheth and Lisa Ray (each unbelievably sexy in her own right), and feature Amber Rose Revah. And both follow two differing women, from two different cultures, one empowered, and the other closeted. However, there is a reason The World Unseen has received three awards and I Can’t Think Straight has not. The former movie was adapted from Shamim’s first, and award-winning, novel of the same title. Being from South Africa, there is blatantly more heart and soul in The World Unseen. The characters have more substance. Not to mention, I learned something: South Asians were not too uncommon in South Africa during Apartheid. And then there’s I Can’t Think Straight. At the risk of sounding harsh, I found the movie to be boring, rather shallow and predictably unrealistic. Basically, it was no different than many lesbian flicks out there: sex, drama, sex, idealistic ending (with a healthy serving of tongue-in-cheek humor). But I have to hand it to Shamim, I admire her work, I embrace the fact that she’s an incredibly empowered woman of color, and I appreciate what her visibility has provided for other queer South Asians.

In the meantime, I’ll be patiently waiting to see her latest films, Despite the Falling Snow and The Dreaming Spires.

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