Ae Fond Kiss Review

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A Glaswegian Pakistani locked in an arranged marriage with his cousin falls in love with a Irish Catholic.


Ken Loach isn't one for cinematic escapism - he wants his audiences to concentrate on the here and now. But although his films confront the key issues of the day, they're not as preachy as his detractors would have you believe. Loach's tales are, first and foremost, about people, and in Ae Fond Kiss he manages to reach beyond social debate to touch you on an emotional level.

With a Catholic girl and Muslim boy as the star-cross'd lovers, the film's dramatic issues suggest themselves immediately. However, there's more to it than the "be true to yourself" mantra of Bend It Like Beckham or the fairy-tale "opposites attract" romance of Bollywood Queen. Ae Fond Kiss plays out not only in a post-9/11 atmosphere of heightened religious tension, but also against a Glasgow backdrop where deep-rooted racism has often been overshadowed by Celtic-versus-Rangers sectarianism.

Recently, it's been men who have dominated Loach's work. But this is undoubtedly Irish newcomer Eva Birthistle's movie. She rips through the story's politics to reveal Roisin's naked emotions and inner strength, delivering one of the most memorable performances in a British movie this year.

This love story is presented in a more intimate way than Loach devotees might expect. It is, dare we say it, his most commercial film for years...