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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 13 May 2005
"Ae fond kiss" is the love story between a Catholic woman and a Muslim man in Glasgow. The title derives, as I assume many will know,from a Robert Burns poem in which the poet laments the loss of his beloved, and the fond kiss is the last kiss before parting.
The love between Roisin and Casim is impossible, because his family expects him to marry his Pakistani cousin. Marrying Roisin is out of the question, and the prospect of it risks to sever Casim from his family forever. Casim is torn between his love for Roisin and love for his family.
The handling of the conflict is very skilful, realistic and far from sentimental. We see both the heartbreak of Casim's family and that of the young couple, and we understand both. The scene where the disappointed father breaks the windows of the house extension he had built for his son and future daughter in law is tremendous and realistically portrayed. We are torn between our understanding of the father's feelings and the greater sympathy that the film creates for the young couple. Ultimately, we cannot bear the overt manipulation of Casim by his family and we want Casim to be with Roisin throughout.
As foils for the young couple, we encounter Hammid, Casim's friend, who has been living with his Christian girlfriend for seven years, but finds marrying her impossible, and who tells Casim that his family is more important than some woman; his younger sister Tahara, who defies her parents and who tells Casim he is a hypocrite; and his sister Rukhsana who does all the right and appropriate things. Ultimately, Casim must choose between giving in to his family's wishes and being with Roisin.
The film is about the dilemma of the second generation, torn between two identities, and how this affects both them and others who choose to be with them. It is beautifully acted, and beautifully filmed in Glasgow. Eva Birthistle is excellent in portraying the gentle, vulnerable, delicate, and at the same time, strong willed Roisin, and the young Shabana Baksh is wonderful as Casim's self-assertive, honest, straightforward, sister. They are both very likeable, as well as the driving forces behind the movie plot.
This is a beautiful, realistic, and ultimately optimistic movie, with nothing overdone or overly dramatic about it, with characters and a plot you cannot remain indifferent to. I have seen it twice already, and I liked it even better upon a second viewing, as I appreciated better the family's manipulative ways, Roisin's vulnerability and her determination, Tahara's strong will and Casim's indecisiveness. This is one of the best Ken Loach films, and makes a wonderful addition to a DVD collection. Do buy it!
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on 26 February 2008
This 2004 romantic drama by Ken Loach explores the difficulties of second generation Pakistani immigrants in their British host society. Casim, a young DJ of Pakistani descent living in Glasgow, falls in love with Irish Catholic music teacher Roisin. However, right from the start their relationship is strained by the pressure exerted on the two lovers by their respective social milieus: Casim's family, devout Muslims, feel disgraced by their son's refusal to marry another Pakistani woman while Roisin must try to hide her relationship from the Catholic church since she seeks permanent employment at a denominational school. In the end, the romantic bond between the two proves to be stronger than the traditional values which speak against their liaison. Some superb acting especially by Atta Yacub, Eva Birthistle and Ahmad Riaz gives this movie a cutting edge. Moreover, this flick is both entertaining and analytical and turns out to be yet another little masterpiece by one of Britain's most controversial directors of the Thatcher era.
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on 27 February 2016
I like it very intelligent movie about urbane experience= what it was missing some identity or character integral with past - perhaps children . But in the town children do not need a character just a job and mobile telephone for dole.
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on 13 January 2016
A really nice film. Somewhat thought provoking as it covers differences in culture between British citizens of different ethnic origins. A nice twist was how both religions have their traditions and seek compliance.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 July 2013
This 2004 film was Ken Loach's fourth excursion into Scottish territory, if you include Robert Carlyle's Glaswegian bus-driver in Carla's Song, in addition to his masterpieces My Name Is Joe and Sweet Sixteen, and, here, Glasgow once again provides an atmospheric backdrop to this powerful 'clash of cultures' tale. Of course, as well as providing its urban visual feel to proceedings, Ae Fond Kiss' location also adds the locals' acerbic (almost unique) sense of humour (and there's plenty of it here), as well as providing the curiously bizarre sight (and sound) of the film's Pakistani Khan family, switching at will between Urdu and broad Glaswegian.

As with all Loach films, there is a core socio-political issue at the heart of Ae Fond Kiss - in this case, religious conformance (and, in particular, 'honour'), as impressive acting debutant Atta Yaqub's Casim, aspiring only son of the Khans, is torn between conforming with his family's expectations of arranged marriage or following his heart via his burgeoning romance with (an equally impressive) Eva Birthistle's Catholic music teacher, Roisin. As ever, Loach has coaxed a typically true, naturalistic set of performances from his inexperienced cast, with each of Ahmed Riaz as strict father Tariq (is a similar role to Om Puri's father in 1999's East Is East) and Shabana Bakhsh, as Casim's equally rebellious sibling, Tahara (in her case, wanting to leave home to do a journalism course at Edinburgh university), being particularly good.

Loach (and regular screen-writer Paul Laverty) sets up his drama of cultural conflict very skilfully, as the Khans are seen swapping their offspring's degree certificates (and other qualifications) with the family of their other daughter's intended and by illustrating Casim's own internal contradictions around family loyalty and honour (censuring his young sister's visit to a nightclub, whilst being tempted himself to go against his family's religious strictures). By throwing Roisin's Catholicism into the mix, Loach shows just how complex life can get, and his even-handed stand against all forms of archaic bigotry is amply demonstrated in the superb scene (a highlight for me) between Roisin and (sadly no longer with us) Gerard Kelly's authoritarian parish priest.

In addition to the film's serious messages there are also (thankfully) plenty of moments of trademark Loach humour. The opening scene of a series of dogs urinating against shopkeeper Tariq's newsstand (and his unexpected means of dealing with the problem) is hilarious, as are the shenanigans of local 'cowboy builders' crew, Gary Lewis' Danny and cohorts Big and Little Roddie (Raymond Mearns and David McKay, respectively).

The other particularly perceptive scene, which Loach gives us right at the start of the film (whilst I would have thought it might have sat more appropriately as a (film) summary scene at the end) is that of a school debating society discussing terrorism, whose liberal viewpoint is espoused by a schoolgirl describing herself as a 'Glaswegian, Pakistani, teenage, woman of Muslim descent who supports Glasgow Rangers in a Catholic school' (as she unveils her Rangers shirt).

For me, Ae Fond Kiss is not quite up with Loach's very best but is nevertheless another fine piece of human, political film-making.
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on 14 November 2012
This story is beautifully told. It is set in Glasgow where a second generation Pakistani muslim and an Irish girl fall in love. It is not just the muslim boy that encounters opposition from his closeknit family. The girl works in a Catholic school and is vilified by the parish priest and the school governers. A simple tale of bigotry and how a couple have to fight for their love.
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on 14 May 2012
Have seen this film on tv a few times and would not overly recommend it, as another reviewer wrote, It's too stereotypical in treatment. The female character comes across as not being really believable in the relationship, which doesn't come across as a love story anyway. They also get into the relationship far too easily to begin with. There's far better similar films to this, like East is East which is much funnier too. Just about watchable because it's directed by Ken Loach, but nothing else.
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on 21 February 2015
Beautiful and touching movie highlighting cultural differences in Glasgow. Second generation Casim and his sister are caught up in old tradition despite their western birth.

This is a movie about the price of love between 2 people from different backgrounds. It undeniably their story. But is more than that too; both of Casim's sisters struggle too each accepting or rejecting the old ways.

It is a story of different values, of people uprooted from their own culture, surviving in another trying to bring up their children, wanting the best from them. Children who raised in the west have less in common with yet are linked by family with the old country.

Happy sometimes sad and very moving.
Recommended.
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on 8 June 2007
I am a Spanish speaking, Muslim, Bangladeshi, English, Manchester girl, that has loved all of Ken Loach's Hispanic films (Pan y Rosas). This man really knows how to capture the heart and soul of humanity and penetrate the very essence of the diverse people he writes about. Ay Fond Kiss is a beautiful film - a boy meets girl story about a Pakistani boy who falls in love with a feisty Irish music teacher. They fall in love despite the religious and cultural divide. All his characters are touching and so real. The father and mother of Cassim despite their inability to understand Cassim's love are still such lovable recognisable characters. Ken Loach unlike so many film writer directors I can mention (who make Brit/Asian films) does not patronise or preach. He never tells a story from his map of the world - he tells it how it is. He one of the great film makers of our time. Thank you Ken!!! I sobbed several times it was so real. "Love and Hate" is also a good Brit/Asian film and worth a watch.
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on 20 January 2012
I didn't like this film that much. Despite good naturalistic performances from professional and amateur actors, the film amassed a collection of stereotypical characters, and built on an extremely explicit script which explained away via boilerplate dialogues all the main ideas behind the inner conflicts of these characters. Take, for instance, the three siblings of the Pakistani family living in Glasgow: the older one is the traditionalist one, the middle one, protagonist Casim (Atta Yaqub) is the one torn between his love for Roisin (Eva Birthistle) and filial duty, and the youngest one is the revolutionary of the family, bent to follow the career path of her choosing (journalist) at the school of her choosing (in Edinburgh rather than Glasgow) where she would lead a life of her choosing. I thought this three-way division was simply too much to take. The fact that Roisin had her own dramas vis-à-vis religion as a music teacher in a Catholic school was predictable as well. Sure, the protagonists had chemistry and, I think, acted beautifully. In the end, though, I wasn't rooting for their love (if love is what it was; we were meant to believe it was, even though it looked mostly like an infatuation -- which, counterposed to the deep love of the family, fell very short in my eyes) because Roisin seemed to respond to every question about the welfare of people around them with something along the lines of "But my own heart? But your own heart, Casim?" It just didn't sound right. But this is not a flaw in the script, but rather a character's treatment which needs to be commended. The right way to feel, given all the circumstances of the love affair and Casim's family, is conflicted. Anyway, an enjoyable movie but way too stereotypical and ultimately forgettable. Also the sequence of scenes was boring. First the youngest daughter, then only the love affair for a long time, then back to family and quick resolution of everything (well, sort of, because the ending is rather open).

2.5 stars

Writing this review I thought of another -- messier (in fact, at the opposite end of the spectrum) -- film dealing with the interplay between personal and social issues much more poignantly, and through a much more experimental approach to storylines and filming. That movie is called Ajami. Check it out.
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