Film

A Fond Kiss (2003)

Lester Pimentel

At the end of A Fond Kiss, Ken Loach's latest film, we are left with a lingering anxiety about the viability of interracial relationships.


A Fond Kiss

Director: Ken Loach
Cast: Atta Yaqub, Eva Birthistle, Ahmad Riaz
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Castle Hill Productions
First date: 2003
US Release Date: 2004-11-26 (Limited release)

At the end of A Fond Kiss, Ken Loach's latest film, we are left with a lingering anxiety about the viability of interracial relationships. Casim (Atta Yaqub) is a second-generation Pakistani who has lived in Glasgow his entire life; his father Tariq (Ahmad Riaz), who runs a "Paki" (the equivalent of a bodega), emigrated to Scotland over 40 years ago. Like many immigrants, particularly those from Muslim countries, Casim's parents have maintained their religious and cultural traditions. This is due in part to the racism and intolerance they face in their adopted country. With their mosques and tight-knit families, Muslims create their own self-sustaining community. Arranged marriages allow them to strengthen ties within this community and maintain relations with their past.

Casim's parents have arranged for him to marry a cousin he has never met. His conservative father is even building an extension to his house for Casim and his fiancée. But Casim's dreams don't jibe with the future his parents envision. As a DJ in one of Glasgow's most popular nightclubs, Casim is also about to open his own nightclub. He's resigned to marrying his cousin until he meets the beautiful and magnetic Roisin (Eva Birthistle), a white woman who teaches music at his sister Tahara's (Shabana Bakhsh) high school. Besides their obvious sexual attraction, Casim and Roisin are naturally curious about each other's culture and religion. Raised as a Catholic in a predominantly white Scottish city, Roisin knows little about Islam or Pakistanis. Wisely avoiding the tendency to be didactic, this cultural exchange is realized unassumingly as they poke fun at the quirks of their religions.

After a rendezvous in Barcelona, where he tells the hitherto unwitting Roisin that he is to be married, Casim calls off the wedding and leaves home, devastating his father. His oldest sister Rukhsana's (Ghizala Avan) arranged marriage is now in jeopardy because Casim's flouting of tradition has brought opprobrium upon the entire family. The scene where Rukhsana meets her prospective husband provides a window on arranged-marriage etiquette and protocol. Casim's mother, Sadia (Shamshad Akhtar) essentially markets his sister like some kind of product by listing the young lady's personal and matrimonial bone fides, her master's degree in psychology and her domestic virtues, like cooking and cleaning. Sadia lists her son's qualifications, including his PhD in chemistry and his bread-winning prowess. To a Westerner, this comes across as something of a crude business transaction. What about love?

This is the question that Roisin puts to Rukhsana, hell-bent on rescuing her own marriage prospects. But Rukhsana has her own question: can Roisin guarantee she will love Casim a week or a month from now? This question reveals a fear of uncertainty. No, Roisin answers candidly, she can't guarantee her love for Casim, her sad eyes and furrowed brow making an irresistible demand on our sympathy. Also facing pressure from her own community to give up her relationship with Casim, Roisin must obtain a signature from her parish priest testifying that she has not been living in sin in order to keep her teaching job. The conservative priest, who actually reckons himself "modern" in his thinking, demands that she leave Casim. Sandwiched between the oppressive strictures of two uncompromising religions, Roisin's situation reminds us that Islam does not have an exclusive purchase on fundamentalism.

Inevitably, the cultural forces bearing down Roisin and Casim expose the precariousness of their relationship. When she calls his father a "bigot," Casim defends him by detailing the abuses his father has suffered at the hands of whites, including being almost stabbed to death. In the film's opening scene, Tahara is also the subject of hateful acts. In France, Germany, England, and the Netherlands, Muslim populations have had to endure what has been dubbed "Islamophobia." In recent months, we have seen the banning of Muslim headscarves in French schools and the murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam by Muslim extremists, underscoring the increasing enmity between immigrant Muslims and white Europeans. And so we worry for Roisin and Casim. Relationships are hard enough without the added baggage of an increasingly vitriolic culture war.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.