Ae Fond Kiss

Ae Fond Kiss


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

If love is blind, it is also selfish. What of emotional blackmail? Do means justify ends?

Questions raised by the third in Ken Loach and Paul Laverty's Glasgow trilogy (My Name Is Joe, Sweet Sixteen) have no easy answers. The actions of lovers are like ripples on a lake; they spread far beyond the intimacy of a single pebble. Add the problems of race, religion and family and the feelings of two people are but sparks in the firmament.

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Roisin (Eva Birthistle) is a lapsed Irish Catholic and Casim (Atta Yaqub) a first generation Glaswegian Pakistani Muslim. She is older, but not necessarily wiser, while he is nine weeks away from marrying a cousin he has never met. She's a teacher and he's a DJ. They are both good at what they do.

This is the oldest story in the world, the destructive nature of forbidden love. Are there fresh insights to alleviate the pain of the inevitable when they are so close you can taste their tears?

Thinking about a Loach production and assuming its working-class origins makes the mistake of labelling him a director "of the left", whatever that means. Where Laverty is so clever is taking a stereotypical situation and writing reality into it, thus transforming the cliché into a truth.

Loach has the ability to extract extraordinary performances from his actors, many of whom are non-professionals. Yaqub is quite exceptional, capable of expressing with body language as much as words the conflict that rages inside Casim's head.

Birthistle matches him every step of the way, exposing the vulnerability in a woman who appears so confidant and assured. Roisin, like so many before her, has been hurt by men and finds trust elusive. Commitment is like diving off a cliff into shark-infested waters.

The chemistry between them prickles the hairs on your neck. Suddenly, almost without knowing it, Loach redefines the complexity of interracial intercourse, with its structures of expectation, loyalty and dependence. He does so without prejudice, as if love is a balm, not a cure.

Reviewed on: 29 Aug 2004
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Dangerous liaison between a lapsed Irish Catholic and a first generation Pakistani Muslim.
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Read more Ae Fond Kiss reviews:

Jennie Kermode ***1/2

Director: Ken Loach

Writer: Paul Laverty

Starring: Eva Birthistle, Atta Yaqub, Ahmad Riaz, Shabana Bakhsh, Gary Lewis, Ghizala Avan, Shamshad Akhtar, Gerard Kelly, David McKay, Raymond Mearns

Year: 2004

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK/Germany/Belgium/Italy/Spain


EIFF 2004

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