Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

Ae Fond Kiss

United Kingdom 2005
Directed by
Ken Loach
104 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Ae Fond Kiss

Synopsis: Casim (Atta Yaqub) is a second-generation Pakistani living in Glasgow. He is devoted to his Muslim family but also has a more Western lifestyle working as a DJ. When he falls in love with feisty Irish teacher Roisin (Eva Birthistle) the balance of East and West is thrown seriously off-balance.

For anyone who hankers for some measure of real life in their cinema without having to suffer the excesses of cinema verite, Ken Loach is a godsend. From long experience he has developed a seemingly effortless ability to unify a commitment to naturalistic story-telling with the artifices of narrative cinema. His choice of subject matter and settings, his thoughtfully-developed scripts and his use of non-professional actors yield a rewarding outcome, teasing out the drama in the everyday, transforming the mundane without ever over-embellishing it.

In Ae Fond Kiss the setting and subject matter - a peep into the world of Glaswegian Pakistanis - is immediately winning. It is an incongruous combination of sight and sound but an irresistible one, full of a humour which is always affectionate, never patronizing. Taking the film's title from a Robbie Burns poem (the line is: "Ae fond kiss and then we sever/Ae fareweel, alas, forever), scriptwriter Paul Laverety in his fifth collaboration with Loach has fashioned a well-crafted story that takes on the complexities of a cross-cultural relationship in deeply tradition-bound communities, themselves at loggerheads with wider currents of societal change.

The film is timely of course in that it gives exposure to Muslim culture and raises questions about the importance and limitations of traditional community-based values as opposed to the supposed freedoms of individualism enshrined in Anglo-Celtic Western culture. That it turns its gaze to the Catholic community in this regard is commendable, although when it also takes on Jim Crow I felt it was going a little too far, even on the grounds of pedagogical instruction.

The performances are all wonderful. In the lead roles newcomers Yaqub and Birthistle are engagingly convincing but it is really the roster of supporting players, evidently mainly non-professionals, who give the film so much of its heart. The two scenes in the kitchen in which the different perspectives and experiences of Casim's family members are succinctly presented in short but intense confrontations are irresistibly moving. Shabana Bakhsh as Casim's rebellious younger sister, Tahara, is outstanding in her quiet way but each cast member brings a note of palpable humanity to a situation which Loach and his team have so skilfully made real.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst