You would think that a cross-cultural, cross-religious lesbian romance should have enough built-in conflict to sustain an 80-minute feature, but Shamim Sarif’s I Can’t Think Straight slumps and stretches its way from its first uninspired set piece, an engagement party for Jordanian-Christian Tala (Lisa Ray), to its mildly embarrassing closing montage, cut to, natch, Jill Sobule’s “I Kissed a Girl” (hello, 1995!). As with her other feature, The World Unseen (released to theaters earlier this month), Sarif adapts and directs her own novel here, with Ray and Sheetal Sheth playing the lead roles. For I Can’t Think Straight, she enlists the help of co-writer Kelly Moss, but to no avail: Sarif has crafted a movie with such paper-thin characterizations and so lacking in dramatic incident that it’s frankly surprising that she was working from a novel at all — much less one she wrote herself.
As the movie opens, Tala finds herself betrothed for the fourth time, after having broken three previous engagements on or near the scheduled wedding days. Her wealthy Christian parents throw her an elaborate engagement party, after which she leaves Jordan for London, where she meets Leyla (Sheth), the guarded Indian-Muslim girlfriend of her friend Ali (Rez Kempton). During their first encounter, Tala immediately shakes up Leyla’s world with some banal provocations about religion. The next day, after a breathy, strenuous tennis match, it’s clear the two have kindled a romance — though they remain ostensibly oblivious to their nascent feelings.
Click here to read the rest of Chris Wisniewski’s review of I Can’t Think Straight.