Review of “Nina’s Heavenly Delights”

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Nina and Lisa

Nina and Lisa’s relationship is very central to the story, and this is reflected in the finished movie: Once their happy ending arrives, the movie ends somewhat abruptly. While this may leave some viewers wishing for a more screen time, either to learn more about Nina’s past or her future with Lisa, those who are watching to see a lesbian relationship likely won’t be disappointed.

There are, however, several developments in the plot that seem too hasty and contrived.

In one pivotal scene set in a nightclub, Lisa is dancing with her boyfriend, Kary, when a mysterious redheaded woman inexplicably jumps in to accost – and kiss – Kary. Immediately afterward, we learn that Kary is secretly married and has been using Lisa as a fake girlfriend in order to avert suspicion.

While the scene itself is shocking, it also stands out as being overly convenient. Suddenly there are no barriers between Nina and Lisa – who may not be as straight she originally seemed – and the central love story can commence thanks to Kary’s deus ex machina wife.

Similarly, Nina’s mother’s sudden acceptance of her daughter’s homosexuality seems contrived. Throughout the film, Nina’s mother is adamant about marrying for function rather than love (even professing to have done so with Nina’s father), and her traditional Indian values are very apparent. But when Nina comes out at last, her mother is the picture of happiness and acceptance – another all-too-tidy wrap-up.

One thing that Nina’s Heavenly Delights does do well is deal with interracial lesbian relationships, an issue rarely addressed in any films. In fact, Nina and Lisa are one of three interracial couples in the film – Kary and his wife, and Nina’s friend Bobbi and his boyfriend are the other two. Delights is able to easily walk the line between treating Nina and Lisa’s relationship normally while still mentioning the Shah family’s conservative feelings.

For a romantic comedy that seeks to avoid too much angst, this subject is handled very well. Race is a minor issue for the characters involved, but not to the extent that it dominates the story.

In the end, showcasing a positive lesbian relationship while avoiding some of the typical queer film catch traps is where Nina’s Heavenly Delights succeeds. Though sometimes overly theatrical and unbelievable, the movie offers lesbian viewers a chance to cheer for a spicy Scottish couple whose relationship develops through a love and devotion to food and family.

If we’re measuring ingredients by heart, this one is just right.

For more information on the film, visit ninasheavenlydelights.com

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