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flick pick | A Fond Kiss 2004
Directed by: Ken Loach
Written by: Paul Laverty
Starring: Atta Yaqub, Eva Birthistle, Shamshad Akhtar, Ghizala Avan, Shabana Bakhsh, Ahmad Riaz
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: drama, romance
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  lovey
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis When tall, handsome Casim goes to pick up his younger sister at her Catholic high school one afternoon, a chance encounter leads him to lock eyes with the school's pretty music teacher, Roisin. It's instant attraction on both parts, but there's one problem: she's Irish Catholic, he's Pakistani Muslim. And in Casim's world, that means that a relationship would be impossible -- even if it weren't for the fact that Casim is already engaged. Though his family has been in Glasgow for ages, Casim's parents hold steadfastly to their ways, and have taken great pains to arrange an "appropriate" marriage for Casim, to his cousin Jasmine who lives back in Pakistan. His parents are thrilled with the match; his dad has already begun to build a house for the young couple-to-be (in the spot that used to house the family garden). Good son that he is, Casim has been feigning excitement about the idea of his impending nuptials, throwing himself into pursuing his dream of opening a club in part to avoid dwelling on the fact that inside, he's freaked out about the idea of marrying a woman he's never met and doesn't love. So Casim finds himself seeking out Roisin, despite the fact that he knows he really shouldn't. He doesn't intend for it to turn into some big thing -- or so he tells himself, to justify hiding the fact of his engagement with Roisin, and sneaking around behind his family's back. But inevitably, Casim and Roisin fall head over heels in love. In the first throes of discovering how happily they mesh, their cultural differences don't seem to matter: they're too wrapped up in learning about one another to give the outside world a second thought. But when Casim finally comes clean to Roisin about the fact that he's arranged to be married -- and soon -- the difficult realities of their situation become impossible to avoid.

Review It's hard to read a plot summary of A Fond Kiss and not think that is just another tired sappy love story, featuring the stereotypical pair of star-crossed lovers who must conquer overwhelming obstacles in order to finally be together. Think Romeo and Juliet, only set in contemporary Glasgow and without the downer ending -- despite the timely element of the Muslim/Christian cultural clash, this sounds like a story we've heard a gazillion and one times before. Been there, done that, right? Well, maybe … but at the same time, A Fond Kiss offers so much more. Because unlike ninety-nine percent of movie romances, A Fond Kiss is wonderfully realistic, sometimes heart-achingly so. Everything -- from the characterizations to the dialogue to the sense of place -- feels so natural that as you're watching Casim and Roisin's relationship develop on screen, you don't think about the movie-making behind the story at all. Which is why it's easy not to realize what a really impressive job director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty have done in crafting this film. The actors are wholly believable, and Atta Yaqub and Eva Birthistle have a real chemistry as Casim and Roisin. Moreover, the script does an excellent job of allowing us to see things from all the different characters' perspectives. There are no bad guys in this film; we're made to understand why Casim's family is so intent on getting him to go through with his arranged marriage, even as we feel Roisin's frustration over the fact that they refuse to acknowledge that she and their son are in love. So often, movies are obsessed with presenting stories that are bigger than life. In A Fond Kiss, we get a love story told in human scale. The result is something deliciously intimate, seriously moving, and utterly romantic. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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