Ae Fond Kiss (15)

Directed by Ken Loach, Written by Paul Laverty
Screening at FACT from 1st-14th October 2004

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Over a period of almost forty years Ken Loach has created film after film for which the word 'gritty' was surely invented. He has developed a knack of crafting working class characters with sensitivity and charm - from Kes (1969) all the way up to Bread and Roses (2000) and beyond. If Ae Fond Kiss had been the debut of a promising new director it could be excused, but coming from Loach it is a bitter disappointment.

Casim (Atta Yaqub) is a young Glaswegian Muslim who exists somewhere between the traditions of his family and the Scottish DJ-ing circuit. By chance he meets very lapsed Catholic Roisin (Eva Birthistle) and they begin a poorly-developed relationship. Though their pairing seems anything but 'fond' it forms the crux of Casim's dilemma - does he follow his heritage and marry the cousin he has never met or does he follow his instinct and live in sin with his sister's music teacher? More to the point, do we care?

This film may take its name from the first line of a Robert Burns poem but it borrows none of its passion. The stereotyped, one-dimensional characters could have stepped straight out of a soap - indeed if a programme such as Family Affairs 'tackled' religious and racial intolerance the result would probably be something like this. Though it feels bizarre to say this about a Ken Loach picture, Ae Fond Kiss is one to miss.