Knight at the Movies ARCHIVES
Couples Gay and Straight:
Touch of Pink, Collateral
8-11-05 Knight at the Movies column
By Richard Knight, Jr.
“Those movies you watch have led you down the wrong path,” Alim’s mother says to her son after he has finally
confessed that he’s gay in Touch of Pink, the first film from writer-director Ian Iqbal Rashid. The cutesy-poo
title is a play on the Cary Grant-Doris Day 60s sex comedy, That Touch of Mink which has meaning here because
Alim has a fantasy mentor-like relationship with Cary Grant (played with obvious relish by Kyle MacLachlan) so
intense that Grant, impeccably dressed, follows him around dispensing advice and bitchy repartee as the moment
As a child, Alim’s close bond with his mother was cemented by their shared love for “those movies,” particularly
anything with the ultimate matinee idol and we are meant to infer that the relationship with Grant has come
about after losing his father. Now grown up, Alim (Jimi Mistry), an Ismali Canadian, lives in London with his gay
white lover, Giles (Kristen Holden-Reid). They’ve just celebrated their anniversary but there’s trouble brewing:
Giles’s eye has begun to wander and Alim’s devout Muslim mother (Sue Mathew), who doesn’t know he’s gay or
has a lover, is flying over from Canada for a visit in order to select him a wife. In preparation of her arrival, Alim
and Giles “de-gay” their apartment – removing erotic artwork and other telltale signs of the “love that dare not
speak its name.” Mother arrives and Big Complications ensue.
Sound extremely familiar? Bring to mind The Wedding Banquet, La Cage aux folles and its American remake
The Birdcage, Torch Song Trilogy, Mambo Italiano and even shades of My Beautiful Laundrette (another tale of
Brit white male-East Indian male gay love)? Well, yes. Writer-director Iqbal Rashid has crafted a pastiche of
gay movies from the past decade and a half that feels flat and outdated until he begins to find his own voice with
the son’s coming out scene at the midpoint. At that moment, the movie begins to go deeper and the quiet work of
Mistry and especially Mathews as the mother (who looks like a cross between Angela Bassett and Geneviéve
Bujold) begins to take hold. The silly plot machinations step aside for some beautifully acted scenes between
Alim and his mother and Alim and Giles as they pick up the pieces of their relationship, before moving to an
Indian wedding and more typical plot twists for its wrap up (“It’s a bit like The Philadelphia Story with saris,”
Grant comments dryly).
As for the Cary Grant gimmick, the central selling point of the movie, I loved the idea of a gay man creating a
vivid, personal relationship with a movie icon to replace something missing in his real life. It’s a potent thought,
also explored in Kiss of the Spider Woman, the need for artifice and beauty (Grant is the penultimate example of
both onscreen) to take the place of rigid, ugly reality for gay men of a certain age – and apparently,
conservative strictures. I wish Iqbal Rashid had included a scene where Alim articulated as much. Eventually, as
it’s meant to, the Cary Grant caricature wears thin – as Alim loses his need for the fantasy.
But before that, we glimpse Grant in the bathtub and a lovely moment where Alim ice skates with his idol that led
me to a little fantasy of my own. Though the long rumors of Grant’s bisexuality and supposed relationship with
housemate Randolph Scott isn’t hinted at in the film – I wondered if writer-director Iqbal Rashid had ever
contemplated a ménage a trois fantasy scene between Alim, Giles and Cary Grant. Such a moment could have
livened up this intensely well behaved movie. Not unlike its lead character, A Touch of Pink could have used a
Touch of Kink
Tom Cruise, dressed in shades of gray (hair/suit/personality), gets into Jamie Foxx’s cab as Jada Pinkett-Smith
gets out and proceeds to hire him for the night to drive him around on his various “appointments.” During the
first stop of the evening the reason for the appointments becomes clear as the first of hit man Cruise’s victims
comes flying out of an apartment window and lands on the engine of the cab. Foxx immediately figures out
Cruise is the killer, Cruise holds him hostage, and for most of the rest of Collateral we are invited along as
Foxx watches helplessly as Cruise kills everyone on his hit list. Mostly though, we’re along to observe the
debonair psychopath teach the never-got-to-the-first-base-of-my dreams shy cabbie how to Grab! Life! By! The!
Critics are hailing this as the return of director Michael Mann to form and yes, he uses the Los Angeles locations
in a style reminiscent of his flawed masterpiece, To Live And Die In L.A. but I didn’t find the script particularly
involving and resisted its Sam Peckinpah-Straw Dogs insistence that violence trumps passivity – like it or not.
The movie combines several genres – action, thriller and dark morality tale and though it does take you for a
ride, it doesn’t seem to arrive anywhere.
I also didn’t buy Cruise as an icy hit man but to lay my cards on the table, Risky Business aside, I have never
bought Tom Cruise or understood his appeal in anything. In each of his performances I detect an underlying,
desperate intensity – to be funny, likeable, evil, nasty – whatever single emotion is called for. Complexity and
lightness seem to throw the guy – ironically, making this icon in the gray flannel suit another perfect part for him.
A gay pastiche and Tom Cruise forces Jamie Foxx to endure his INTENSITY thing