Review of “I Can’t Think Straight”

It’s a treat to watch Ray and Sheth onscreen together, and it’s especially wonderful to see women of color portray realistic, positive lesbian characters. They have terrific chemistry, and an easy grace that translates beautifully to the screen.

The film has plenty of light moments that keep the piece from sinking under the weight
of the drama, and it’s underscored with a blend of infectious Indian pop and more Hollywood-esque Western
music. More than a few scenes could double as music videos, with frequent musical montages and one very sexy dance between Leyla and Tala.

As for the inevitable comparison to The World Unseen, this film is louder, more colorful, more clichéd and overall more “Hollywood.” It’s clear that Sarif honed her directorial skills for the second production, and one longs for the simple, understated beauty of The World Unseen.

Perhaps it has to do with the setting. Unseen was a period piece, with a slightly more deliberate pace and overall more “grounded” sense of space and time.

But since the two films are so similar — right down to the little thematic touches (such as sympathetic father characters, humorous bit players, and plenty of political talk and gender-role busting) — it’s fun to see the stories play out with the same performers in different eras. They really are complementary movies, and it’s clear that Sarif has a strong voice and an ability to translate her stories onto the screen.

Despite the few clunky scenes, the film is brimming with life, energy and color. It’s an earnest first attempt at filmmaking, and frankly, it’s worthwhile to support lesbian directors like Sarif who are making important, entertaining work and increasing visibility for lesbians of Middle Eastern and Indian descent.

While The World Unseen is certainly superior, I Can’t Think Straight still has undeniable
charm.

The World Unseen opened on Nov. 7,
and I Can’t Think Straight opens in limited release this Friday, Nov. 21.

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