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Photograph by Carol Racicot

Touching Up: The spirit of Cary Grant (Kyle MacLachlan) gives Alim (Jimi Mistry) some sartorial pointers in 'Touch of Pink.'

Taken for Grant

'Touch of Pink' is a farce of a different color

By Richard von Busack

HELP! Where are you, George Sanders, my invisible pal since childhood, who manifests himself in his famous role as avatar of critics Addison de Witt in All About Eve? I need you. I've got to write up this date movie for guys titled Touch of Pink. It's deadline time, but all I can think about are crows pecking my eyeballs.

George Sanders (materializing with some appropriately suave sound-effect, like the tinkling of a cocktail being poured into a rock crystal tumbler)—Control yourself, dear boy. Always overstating the case. What might this week's dainty dish be?

—Oh, George, you have to help me. It was a banal multiculti farce set in London, about an Ishmali Muslim who's gay ...

—But he doesn't want his mother to find out ...

—Yes. How did you know? And ...

—She turns up unexpectedly, and he has to pretend that his boyfriend is actually his housemate. Dismaying how unkillable Norman, Is That You? is, isn't it. More lives than Fu Manchu, I dare say.

—I knew I could count on you, George.

—Shall I continue? The young man in question, Alim (Jimi Mistry) has to hold off his mother, Nuru (Suleka Mathew--she's not without merit, really, reminds me a bit of Merle Oberon). Much uproarious hijinks ensue, as the ensemble heads for Toronto, where all are reconciled at a ostentatious wedding. The detail about the pheasant samosas is amusing enough.

—I should mention the film's salient feature. It has a gimmick; the spirit of Cary Grant himself keeps materializing to the hero, giving him advice. It seems that Grant was Alim's imaginary childhood friend, giving him love and advice.

—A novel device taken from I Hate Hamlet, where it was John Barrymore, and Play It Again, Sam, where it was Bogart. Kyle MacLachlan plays Grant.

—Very well, too; this would have been unwatchable without him. It's a noteworthy impersonation. MacLachlan's impressive jaw juts out; he wears the clothes well; the staccato voice is accurate if a shade deep. What makes MacLachlan interesting, though, is that element of neurosis around the eyes. That's where the strain of the part shows on him here, and that's where the illusion is the weakest. But, George, I do want to be fair. Touch of Pink is a minor independent movie that doesn't deserve the same roughhousing that a vile blockbuster might.

—The thin edge of the wedge, dear boy. If director Ian Iqbal Rashid doesn't curb his appetite for the saccharine, his indifference toward casting and his Aaron Spelling-like faith that one good hug will resolve everything, he'll only get worse on his way up. And this undernourished farce may be his ticket to larger things. I can see his career rising in the East like the sun.

Touch of Pink (Unrated; 92 min.), directed and written by Ian Iqbal Rashid, photographed by David A. Makin and starring Jimi Mistry and Kyle MacLachlan, opens Friday at selected theaters.

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