Night of Henna

Rated NR 2005

This culture-clash romance, between the sheltered daughter of a Pakistani-American cab driver and a pale blonde guitarist, is said to be the first Pakistani-American film. Earnest and good-hearted, Hassan Zee's movie should appeal to its target audience, yet it looks and plays like a wedding video, shot though it was by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Hiro Narita. Its editing is choppy, its narrative predictable, and its rigid Old World vs. free New World opposition yields no surprises. While Pooja Kumar, a former Miss India U.S.A., is as charming as any Bollywood actress in the lead role, and while the actors playing the character's mother and aunt do good work, most of the others seem stiff and uncomfortable. Craig Marker as the boyfriend, for example, channels Owen Wilson via Dennis Hopper -- and that's not a good thing. Kumar's enthusiasm for American ways is disarming, however: Offered a job at a coffeehouse, she chirps with joy: "It pays $8 an hour!"

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Night of Henna

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