From acclaimed writer Hanif Kureishi and the not-acclaimed director of Buddha of Suburbia come this heartwarming tale of an angry young woman who gets softened up a bit by an elderly actor. Peter O’Toole did not win an oscar for his brave portrayal of an old man who dies at the end. I liked Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter, Sleepy Hollow) because I recognized him.

Picture a long shot of hospital room, 74-yo O’Toole (left) lying in bed semi-conscious, 24-yo Jodie Whittaker (right) standing facing him lifting her shirt over her breasts. Alas, the DVD was returned before I could take screen shots.

Dreaded having to watch this since I saw a hundred times the sappy trailer where P.O’T is embarrassingly caught spying on Jodie when she’s posing nude for a drawing class… went from “oh I could watch that” oscar-bait to “please do not ever let me watch that”, the way over-advertised films seem to do. But it wasn’t so bad… except for the ending.

Written by Hanif Kureishi, which I know is a Big Deal in the academic world but I’m not entirely sure why. Katy points out the complex characters and the offbeat ending (the father alone & lonely in his house). Cab-driving father is a lapsed muslim who has sex with prostitutes and does other non-muslim things, and his son decides to go hard-line and hang out with clerics and protest whore houses (and burn them down). Argument ensues, father does not win, son buzzes off and wife leaves father. I am having trouble with the details, unfortunately. When I think back two weeks to when I watched this, a sort of generic movie-of-the-week feeling comes to mind. I do remember the actors alright – Om Puri (Gandhi, Code 46) and Akbar Kurtha (Syriana) were good as father and son, respectively. Rachel Griffiths (Blow, Jude) I suppose was the prostitute, and we were treated to a phoned-in performance from Stellan Skarsgard in the midst of his breakout year in Hollywood (from Breaking the Waves and Insomnia to Amistad and Good Will Hunting). Stellan is a rich immoral businessman who pays Om Puri to drive him around and supply prostitutes – I keep thinking Stellan’s parties in empty warehouses will go all Hostel but they never do. Katy thought it was alright.

I’ve already done enough damage with this one, so I’ll be brief.

Golly-gee Omar used to date his punker racist friend Johnny (Daniel-Day Lewis in his first good role?), sees him again in a dark scary tunnel and they get back together. Help run O’s uncle’s laundromat, paying for renovations by stealing from uncle’s actual business, drug-running. Omar’s father is spaced-out-and-dreamy sick old man Roshan Seth (Monsoon Wedding, Temple of Doom) and uncle is Saeed Jaffrey (man who would be king). Omar gets on power trip, has some “reverse” racist moments with Daniel-Day, and flirts with a female cousin.

Something seems off throughout – nobody is quite behaving normally, and the camera work is slightly absurd (clean, shining, colorful images), and there are soap bubble sound effects on the soundtrack. I didn’t know what to make of it all.

Writer Hanif Kureishi was also the source of Patrice Chéreau’s Intimacy.