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Ninas Heavenly Delights
UKScreen Rating:

Ninas Heavenly Delights – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Several years after running away from home, to escape an arranged marriage, Nina (Conn) returns to Glasgow for her estranged father’s funeral.
She ends up taking over his curry house, only to find that he was so far in debt that a rival restaurant is taking it over. But she also discovers that her father had got through to the final of the Best of the West curry competition, so she sets out to win the prize, to win back her family’s dignity in the hope that it will help her retain control of the family restaurant.
In the run-up to the televised final, she bumps into her ex fiancé, hangs around with her “dancing queen” of a gay best friend and falls in love with her father’s creditor’s daughter (yes, daughter) – you know, the usual.
Well, you’d think it were the usual, from the way everyone reacts when the truth comes out.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

It’s not often that you see a low-budget, British rom-com about lesbian chefs crossing the ethnic divide in a middle-class Glasgow suburb. And this film shows us why.
First of all, before I get my claws out, I have to admit that on a simplistic level, it’s warm and uplifting, and there’s no doubt that by the end of it, after watching them cook curry for an hour and a half, you’ll need to stop off at the first curry house you pass on your way home.
But for a story that tackles such big issues as homosexuality and interracial relationships – clashing the two in the mother of all issues – the drama is neither insightful nor in any way powerful.
It’s just twee, with every last character and location fitting the relevant stereotype. And while there’s plenty of chemistry between the people and the food, but none at all between the people themselves.
So much about it seems so unlikely: that so many people have so many secrets and such big secrets at that; that the mother should take them all so well – meaning that we’d been worrying on Nina’s behalf for nothing, and that what little drama we thought there might have been in the film was actually non-existent after all.
And apart from poor old ex fiancé Sanjay, who’s done nothing wrong apart from fall for the woman his parents have set him up with, everyone else in the film conveniently gravitates towards the people who happened to like them.
It’s simply too unrealistic – a world that complicated wouldn’t resolve itself so neatly. It sets up loads of drama, but fails to deliver on any of it.
The big question is – who on earth is the film aimed at? The curry cooking and traditional Asian family issues might appeal to traditional Asian viewers, but if homosexuality really is as taboo as the younger characters initially feel, the traditional Asian viewers won’t take too well to a film that promotes it.
And if it isn’t that taboo after all, as the mother’s reaction might suggest, then there’s no real drama in the film anyway.

opens nationwide 29th September 2006

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